Govt seeks $75m for maize purchase

HARARE - Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government is seeking at least $75 million to purchase maize from farmers for the 2018 season.

Yesterday, the Agricultural Marketing Authority (Ama) whose aim is to raise financial resources for the agricultural sector through various instruments said it is planning to issue Ama Bills of up to $75 million.

Ama Bills are bonds that are brought through pension funds.

Ama said the purpose of the bills is to “finance the purchase of maize grain for the 2018 buying season through the Grain Marketing board (GMB).”

“Over the years, GMB has battled to pay farmers on time for grain deliveries.

“The information memorandum and documents relating to the special features listed above can be inspected at CBZ Holdings Limited, Investment Banking Division in Harare,” said Ama.

CBZ Holdings, which was appointed financial advisor to Ama, yesterday invited corporates and individual investors to subscribe for the floated bills with a 7 percent interest rate.

The bills, whose offer opened yesterday, have a tenure of 360 days.

Special features of the bills include prescribed asset status, liquid assess status and tax exemption status and are secured by a government guarantee.

Last year, Ama floated $80 million worth of bills to finance the buying of local maize for the 2017 season. The bills were issued at an interest rate of 7,5 percent per year and a tenure of 360 days from the first day of allotment.

It is anticipated that the move will bolster the successful 2018/19 summer cropping season under the government’s Command Agriculture programme that seeks to ensure increased grain production, mostly maize.

The floating of Bills also comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union has called on stakeholders in the agricultural sector to brace for the predicted El Nino phenomenon which is set to affect the 2018/19 cropping season.

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