ZIMBABWE – Africa focused finance institution, African Development Bank (AfDB) has lined up US$20 million of investments in an agricultural value chain development programme in Zimbabwe, the Herald reports.

The programme, which awaits approval from the government is looking to support three components of the agricultural value chains that is, beef development, horticulture development and technical assistance in those areas.

It will be implemented in five districts in Gweru, Marondera, Beitbridge, Chimanimani and Bulawayo to benefit 2,900 direct and 20,000 indirect beneficiaries.

The project, owned by private sector operators and communal farmers would involve construction of green houses for the production of seedlings targeting women and youth farm groups.

“We believe these value chains are critical for Zimbabwe’s economic development,” said AfDB senior policy analyst Eric Mariga.

“As a bank, we will continue helping Zimbabwe.”

To ensure its implementation, the government will provide additional US$2.3 million while engaging private sector entities to support the agricultural component.

Reviewing export potential

With the implementation of the project, AfDB targets to revive Zimbabwe’s export potential both in the beef and horticultural sector.

Communal farmers in selected districts will be provided with seedling propagation infrastructure such as greenhouses and irrigation equipment as well as an avenue to export their produce.

According to Mariga, reviewing the industry would be critical in providing employment opportunities to women and youth, in addition to earning the Southern African nation foreign exchange.

The country had approximately 9,100-tonne beef quota to the European Union but was banned in 2001 following the outbreak of foot and mouth and today, the ban remains on failure to meet EU standards, particularly the system of identification, registration and labelling of bovine animals.

Last year, the government said it was looking towards US$2 billion worth of beef exports with an eye on the EU.

This proceeds numerous measures put in place to meet beef export standards including stringent animal disease control regulations, better animal husbandry, breeding and pastures to boost beef quality.