ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe has officially launched the US$30 million Horticulture Export Revolving Fund aimed at capacitating local farmers in boosting production and tackling challenges related to unavailability and lack of access to appropriately structured financing for short to long-term expenditures.

The fund is aimed to close the financing gap in the value addition and beneficiation of fresh produce, which has resulted in horticultural value-chain margins being unsustainably squeezed.

According to reports by The Chronicles, it will be accessed through normal banking channels from participating financial institutions where eligible export horticulture applicants/intended beneficiaries are required to submit their requests with the requisite information.

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, presided over the launch of the fund in stressed the need to grow the agriculture sector as a major economic driver.

Increasing agricultural production through value addition and beneficiation is in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025), whose main objective is to structurally transform Zimbabwe’s economy from one highly dependent on the export of agricultural raw materials to an economy trading in high value processed goods.

According to the Horticulture Development Council (HDC), the sector employs 18 700 people and has potential to double jobs in the next four years.

Under the Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan, the sector is projected to contribute export earnings of US$300 million per year, at least by 2030, up from an estimated US$77 million.

To this end, the setting up of a US$30 million Horticulture Export Revolving Fund (HERF) in line with the 2022 National Budget Statement on the SDR allocation, will go a long way in empowering our farmers to start horticulture projects as well as acquire value addition facilities that will enable dehydrating, freezing, canning, bottling, extracting, juicing and concentrating their produce,” said Prof Ncube.

“It is from these resources that Treasury is targeting strategic sectors such as horticulture expansion and value addition, a sector that has potential to generate foreign currency earnings and create jobs that will have a multiplier effect in growing the economy.”

Prof Ncube said the Horticulture Export Revolving Fund has the potential to close the funding gap and spearhead increased productivity, as well as finance bankable projects with a focus on value addition.

Such strategic deployment of resources, he added, will ensure that Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 remains on course as the country targets an upper middle-income society.

“Through the risk sharing and co-financing model, banking institutions shall conduct their normal credit assessments and due diligence.

“To this end the Government, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, FBC Bank, NMB Bank, CABS Bank and the AFC Land and Development Bank have signed the Memorandum of Agreement and Term Sheet for the Horticulture Export Revolving Fund,” he highlighted.

Zimbabwe is geared to restore its position as one of the leading horticultural exporting countries in the region alongside the likes of Kenya, South Africa and Egypt.

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