ZIMBABWE- Zimbabwe’s special maize import substitution scheme, Command Agriculture has received more private sector financiers including  Homelink Group, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) who have provided US$6 million facility focusing on beef production.

Other investors include National Foods Limited, Northern Farming, Staywell (Trading) and chicken producer Irvine’s Zimbabwe which is supporting the poultry programme.

On the other hand, Sakunda Holdings has availed a US$10 million for the purchase of cattle for Matabeleland North and South provinces.

Command Agriculture is a government initiative introduced in August 2016 with Sakunda Holdings as the major financier of the programme.

It a Zimbabwean agricultural scheme aimed at ensuring food self-sufficiency started for the 2016/17 cropping season, a period the country was said to be struggling with economic problems.

According to the Herald Zimbabwe, the new financiers are set to work with selected contracted farmers as the scheme targets farmers near water bodies who could put a minimum of 200 hectares under maize per individual.

Higher output expected

The initiative aims to ensure food security in the country and according to Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mupamhanga, it has performed well in the last two seasons as indicated by the bumper harvest of 2016/ 17 and the on-going maize deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for the 2017 /18 marketing season.

The inaugural phase of Command Agriculture resulted in a bumper harvest of 1 210 558 962 tonnes, including the 461,114,072 tonnes from the Presidential Input Support Scheme.

Wheat production also reached 186,243 tonnes, with the programme contributing 148,356,179 tonnes.

In the inaugural season maize was planted on 171,255ha before rising to 176,892ha in the previous season while soya bean was planted on 21,743ha in the 2017 /18 season.

Mr Mupamhanga said maize deliveries to GMB have hit 775, 228 tonnes for the 2017/18, bringing total maize stocks to 1 132 396 456 tonnes and soya bean deliveries were 37 557 703 as at August 27.

The programme however, is affected by shortages of nostros funds, which has negatively impacted on the procurement of irrigation equipment, machinery, heifers, chemicals, and raw materials for fertiliser manufacturing.