A whopping $9 billion investment facility is sitting idle in local banks, as there are no viable projects that are being presented for funding, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
Fielding questions from the floor after presenting a public lecture themed "Command Agriculture in Zimbabwe: Myths, Lessons and Future" at the Midlands State University last week, VP Mnangagwa said Government was ready to finance all sound projects within the framework of the Command Agriculture scheme.
"Come with a programme yawanyora pasi," he said. "As long as you have got a programme, we are going to support it. Our financial institutions have, for instance just now, over $9 billion funds just sitting and are not being used.
"We have talked to the financial services sector to release these funds to circulate in the economy and they can only release such funds they are keeping if there are programmes and these are programmes we are talking about.
"We want to support viable programmes, especially coming from the youths to support import substitution under the Buy Zimbabwe initiative. We are not saying you should have money, but you should have a solid proposal and then we finance the programme. We have put a menu of opportunities, which you can choose to participate in.
"So, it's either you choose to be employed and you choose to employ. If you choose to employ you come with a project and we will finance you and if you choose to be employed, sit around until someone has a project and you apply for employment."
VP Mnangagwa said Government had also put aside funding for young entrepreneurs keen to learn new technologies abroad to produce local products.
Over and above that, VP Mnangagwa said he recently launched a $90 million horticultural facility for small businesses, including the youths and the women.
"The horticultural facility has been earmarked for export earnings and in fostering financial inclusion, particularly among players in the small and medium enterprises and cooperative development sector to take advantage of the recently launched $410 million horticultural export facility, which was launched by the Ministry, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and some financial institutions," he said.
"I am sure that it will go a long way in fostering financial inclusion in small businesses and cooperatives."
VP Mnangagwa shared lessons and experiences that Government learnt during the first year it implemented the Command Agriculture scheme.
"There is need for a long-term strategy aimed at reorganising the fertiliser production chain by drawing lessons from friendly countries like Belarus, People's Republic of China and India, among others," he said.
"The future lies in us enhancing our capacity to manufacture our own fertilisers and exploit trade agreements between our companies and friendly countries ready to cooperate with us.
"Universities need to be centres of excellence for agricultural innovation and research and development and act as incubation centres for research projects before handing them over for mass production and commercialisation.
"I believe that going forward, our focus should be more on closing any planning and operational gaps we might have encountered during this 2016-17 agricultural season."
Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper harvest of two million tonnes of grain, enough to feed its population people and livestock, buoyed by the successful Command Agriculture programme.