ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwe Agricultural Development Trust (ZADT) has provided US$87.5 million towards funding small-holder farmers and agribusinesses as it seeks to boost their operations.
The Herald reports the disbursement goes to almost 530,000 beneficiaries, 26% of which are women, something in line with the government’s drive to economically empower women.
According to ZADT chief executive officer Godfrey Chinoera, the funds were accessed either directly through participating micro finance institutions (MFIs) and banks or indirectly through value chain actors.
“The objective of the fund is to impact the lives of smallholder farmers that are engaged in commercial activities and see how they can be uplifted and how they can break through barriers that keep them mostly as subsistence farmers,” he said.
The funding package was started in 2012 with US$3.8 million seed capital from the Danish International Development Agency, Department for International Development (DFID) and the Ford Foundation.
It is meant to support all farming activities and value chain sectors apart from cotton and tobacco, provided in form of loans to farmers at an interest rate as low as 2%.
ZADT fund has provided capital in different sectors including sugar, beans cropping, potatoes, sesame, Michigan pea beans, paprika, green maize in different regions of the country.
Smallholder farmers are able to access loans from ZADT which has partnered CBZ bank to mobilise private funds through deposits and other lines of credit, and advance them to smallholder farmers, SMEs and agricultural value chain actors.
According to Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) executive director Paul Zakariya, the African continent contributes about 3% in agricultural global trade, with 1% of that coming from Southern Africa.
He said access to affordable financing, training and investment in value addition ventures, was central to transforming smallholder farmers’ output.