Farmers pay back Command Agric loans

HARARE - Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said farmers who benefited from Command Agriculture have managed to pay back 60 percent of the money provided by Sakunda Holdings to bankroll the scheme.

Sakunda Private Limited provided the farming inputs upfront that were to be paid back in a year when farmers harvest. Sakunda was engaged after government realised that commercial banks were not lending to farmers. Under the scheme, farming inputs go to the farmers, they produce and sell and on the basis of a stop-order system, the money is recovered.

From the total of over $200 million lent to farmers, over $120 million has been paid back, Chinamasa said.

“Commercial banks, because of the non-performing loans, are wary of lending to farmers. That is where we came in and the irony of it is that the private sector, who are involved in this, are getting the money from the commercial banks at 4 percent, whereas if individuals went to the commercial bank, they will be charged 12 to 18 percent,” Chinamasa said.

He said a positive culture of honouring loan obligations was emerging among farmers who benefited. 

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