Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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5 300 tobacco farmers benefit from $28m input scheme

5 300 tobacco farmers benefit from $28m input scheme

Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
More than 5 360 tobacco farmers have benefited from Government’s $28 million Tobacco Input Credit Scheme. The fund, which was availed last year, was meant to empower small holder farmers who have been experiencing challenges in accessing funding from banks and contractors.

The scheme is being implemented by TIMB and Agribank. The farmers received seed, fertilisers, chemicals and money to pay their workers. The farmers also received coal for curing and packaging material.

Addressing farmers in Manicaland recently, TIMB technical services manager, Mr Blessing Dhokotera urged farmers who benefited from the scheme to pay back their loans to ensure the facility benefits more farmers.

“To benefit from the scheme, a farmer should have been a grower for more than two years and must not be contracted or owing a contractor,” he said.

Mr Dhokotera said the programme, which started late November, was expected to benefit more growers next season.

“The programme is a Government initiative to assist small scale farmers. It is a loan, its not free; therefore beneficiaries should pay back the loans so that it remains a revolving fund,” he said.

He urged farmers not to despair because of the dry weather conditions that had affected the crop in some parts of the country. In some parts of Manicaland, tobacco had been severely affected by the hot weather while in others there was still hope that the crop could improve due to the current rains.

Government last year came up with a $28 million loan facility to benefit small scale tobacco growers and ensure auction floors remain functional. This followed a realisation that the bulk of flue-cured tobacco was being grown under the contract system and a farmers were now selling through auction floors.

Government stated that contract companies would not be closed. Small scale tobacco farmers normally experienced challenges accessing top dressing fertiliser and the scheme was seen as an opportunity for them to boost their operations.

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