International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Zimbabwe have resumed economic cooperation with IFAD, a specialised agency of the United Nations, set to inject over $40 million towards the development of small holder irrigation projects in the semi-arid areas of the country.
Government – IFAD cooperation had been adversely affected as result of Zimbabwe’s failure to pay its arrears which amounted to US$23. Governing laws of the Fund do not allow full engagement and allocation of new resources when a member is in arrears.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of the rescheduling plan agreement for the IFAD debt, Minister of finance and Economic development, Patrick Chinamasa armored the importance of this reengagement pact saying it will help improve agricultural output.
“The centrality of agriculture has forced government to focus on irrigation rehabilitation and development.
“We have no choice, this is now out of necessity and we should plough and deploy more resources in this sector. The assistance we are going to get will be a major shot in the arm for the agricultural sector in this country especially irrigation development,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He also said that the project will benefit a lot of households at the same time opening up more hectares of land.
“The benefit to more than 20 000 household and opening up 8 000 hectares to irrigation will have a positive output to the agriculture sector,” he said.
The total costs of the agreed programme is estimated at US$60 million over a period of five years.
According to Minister Chinamasa, government made a payment of US$ 2.3 million to clear the arrears owed to IFAD to unlock new concessional financing as part of the reengagement process.
He also said, “The goal of the agreed programme is to contribute to sustainable poverty eradication and improvement in food and nutrition security in semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe.”
“The development objective is to sustainably increase diversified production, productivity and household incomes in targeted irrigation schemes of semi-arid communal and old resettlement areas of Zimbabwe.”
Farmers who will benefit from this programme will pay for the investment, operation and maintenance costs.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Paddy Zhanda applauded the initiative saying the reengagement will aid the country’s agriculture sector.
“This a major milestone to the agricultural sector and this is evidence that IFAD is committed to ending poverty in Zimbabwe.
“The agriculture sector continues to face many challenges from climate change and such reengagements will help us curb many challenges,” he said.
Sana Jatta, IFAD Director for East and Southern Africa the reengagement pact will scourge rural poverty.
“The firm reengagement pact to resume combatting, hand in hand, the scourge of rural poverty in all its forms in this country,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been a member of IFAD for 35 years and has been assisted with various agricultural projects mainly in small irrigation schemes in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and West, Masvingo, Midlands, and Matabeleland North and South provinces.
The Key pillars of the Agreement reached include
a) Agreed to make a down payment, equivalent to 10% of the total debt stock in US$ equivalent in October 2015, and the balance to be repaid over a five year period with no grace period; and
b) Once the Government honours the 10% down payment in October 2015, IFAD will seek approval by December 2015 session of its Executive Board of the 5 year debt resettlement plan, immediately followed by designing a new US$ 50-60 million small holder irrigation development project for approval not later than September 2016 with an IFAD financial contribution of around US$30 million. IFAD is very happy to confirm that not only has the Government kept its word and made 10% down payment on schedule, they have gone even further to pledge, and pay, an additional US$ 300 000 to IFAD’s core resources for the 2016-2018 replenishment period.
Against these achievements by government IFAD is undertaking
a) IFAD’s Executive Management committee endorsed the legal agreement between IFAD and Zimbabwe and submitted it for the consideration, and approval, of the 116th session of IFAD’s executive Board which will be held next week.
b) Given IFAD’s full commitment in the government respecting its commitment to make down payment, IFAD dispatched a 5 person strong inception mission to the country in early October 2015 to work out with the government to initiate the designing of a new Smallholder irrigation Revitalisation Programme.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFADPatrick Chinamasa