Government has no plans to write off Command Agriculture debts and expects beneficiaries of the facility to pay back dues. Command Agriculture is a cost recovery scheme that was introduced by Government in 2016 to substitute importation of maize.
This production programme targeted both A1 and A2 farmers as well as Government institutional farms, particularly those near water bodies.
Under the facility, farmers are provide with seed, herbicides and fertilisers, among other inputs.
In a recent statement, Finance and Economic Development Ministry said since the inception of the Command Agriculture programme to date, Government has through Sakunda Holdings availed funding amounting to US$1, 02 billion in support of the crop production.
The ministry said Government had this year disbursed $603,8 million, excluding interest to Sakunda.
“Government has fully availed all the local funding for the contracted hectarage through the financiers who were contractually tasked to handle the procurement processes. Any third-party reconciliations and settlements are therefore handled in accordance with that arrangement.
“However, in some instances where inputs required foreign currency allocations and there are still outstanding foreign currency obligations, these will be treated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the current framework for resolving legacy foreign currency obligations,” read the statement.
The ministry urged farmers to continue paying their debts as there are no plans to write off the debts.
“Records for the two seasons are still being updated, but so far over $180,3 million has been collected from farmers.
“Government has not written off any debts to farmers and does not intend to do so. All farmers are expected to honour their obligations under the programme in full, even after the programme has been wound up,” read the statement.
The ministry said Command Agriculture was continuing for the next seasons.
“As from the 2019-2020 summer cropping season, and in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and the Budget Statements for 2019, the financing model for Special Grain and Oil Seed (Maize, Wheat and Soya Beans) Production (Command Agriculture) has been transformed and now involves commercial banks and Private Sector Out-grower schemes, working jointly with Government on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis.
“So far the banks that have entered into a partnership with Government include, Agribank, CBZ Bank and Stanbic Bank. More banks are expected to join the programme, therefore bolstering efforts for domestic resource mobilisation.
“In the main, Government will provide guarantees to the banks for them to lend to farmers on a commercial basis,” said the statement.
In 2016, Government initiated the Command Agriculture programme targeting maize production, with the objective to improve food security at both national and household levels.
In 2017, the programme was extended to wheat and soya beans and in 2018, it was further expanded to cover the livestock, fisheries and wildlife production sub sectors.