19 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Expedite Farmers' Loans, Made Urges Agribank

AGRICULTURE, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made on Thursday challenged Agribank to speedily process farmers' loans to allow them to buy fertilisers and save crops from leaching induced by the obtaining wet spell.

Minister Made said should the wet spell persist, farmers would need to apply more top dressing fertiliser to replenish nutrients that would have been leached.

"Farmers do not have money but they urgently need to secure more top dressing fertilisers so Agribank should speedily process the loans.

"Those who have the fertilisers must also be cautious when they apply them to avoid applying it on rainy days, which leaves the fertiliser prone to being washed away," said Minister Made.

He urged farmers to closely monitor weather bulletins and work with their extension officers to curb potential wastage of fertilisers.

Government formed Agribank (the Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe) and registered it as a commercial bank in terms of the Banking Act (Chapter 24:20) to help finance agriculture. Its mandate is to provide agricultural finance to A1, A2, small-scale and commercial farmers among other services. Government has so far released $5 million out of a promised US$15 million as support for this season.

Minister Made applauded President Mugabe for introducing his Well-wishers Input Scheme. He said the situation would have been worse if it was not for the scheme.

Farmers who benefited from the President's Inputs Scheme, said Minister Made, should use the inputs resourcefully and always consult weather bulletins before making critical decisions. "The President showed great foresight when he launched his scheme. I want to appreciate the fact that he showed great concern for his people and so he went the extra mile to guarantee their food security and economic prosperity.

Minister Made said that Mashonaland Central province had done better in both maize and tobacco hectarage this season compared to last year.

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