Agriculture facility underutilised


Augustine Mukaro

CENTRAL bank governor Gideon Gono’s $5 trillion Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF) has been underutilised because of insufficient documentation and collateral needed in the processing of applications.


U

tilisation figures announced yesterday show that a mere $338,9 billion has been disbursed and only 161 people have benefited.


The ASPEF put in place following the announcement of thae 2005 Post-Election and Drought Mitigation Policy Framework in May availed $5 trillion to enhance productivity in the agricultural and export sectors as well as ensuring food security.


“The $5 trillion package was unveiled under this facility which sought to provide concessionary funding to agriculture and export sectors,” Gono said adding that “a total $338,93 billion has been disbursed for 161 borrowers to date”.


Thousands of farmers, especially A2 farmers, were expected to have benefited from the facility and turned around the fortunes of the free falling economy.


Sub-sectors that were set to benefit from the facility included irrigation, horticulture, beef cattle, dairy, poultry and piggery.


Under the horticulture support, only one person has so far benefited despite the fact that Gono has been making frantic efforts to boost forex generating ventures in the country.


Agricultural experts said the low take up of the facility was indicative of the ebbing confidence in the agriculture sector.


“The ongoing evictions and contradicting statements on land issues have created uncertainty in the agricultural sector,” one farmer said adding that, “Farmers have become sceptical and hesitant to get into any agreements without government undertaking.”


A number of farmers who are currently being evicted from their farms had been encouraged by Zanu PF leaders to continue with production but they are now being kicked off the land.