Rome group commits to reviving Zim agric

HARARE - Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) says it is ready to help revive Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector, only when the country resolves its debt arrears with the institution.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Ifad — a specialised agency that finances agricultural development projects primarily for food production in developing countries — broke down in 2006 when the country defaulted on its arrears.

Three ongoing projects were closed at that time.

Sanna Jatta, Ifad regional director for east and southern Africa, yesterday told journalists that the financial institution was committed to resuming its development programme to assist the government in reducing poverty as soon as the outstanding issue of arrears and deliverables from the previous operations has been addressed.

“Since I took up this post on April 1, 2015, I made it one of my 100 days objectives to re-engage with Zimbabwe and I have to do everything in my power to ensure that the negotiations are successful,” he said.

Jatta noted that as a result of a crucial level of food insecurity, Ifad’s immediate focus would be on providing smallholder farmers with training in improved agricultural technology, and with inputs such as fertilisers and seeds, to help boost production and productivity.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the country owes Ifad an estimated $40 million and is working on re-scheduling the debt.

“We invited them to come so that we can talk about it (the debt). It’s something that we must correct and correct immediately,” he said.

Chinamasa added that Zimbabwe has pledged $300 000 to Ifad for on-lending to other member countries as part of strategies to normalise relations.

Joseph Made, Agriculture minister, said the country’s re-engagement with Ifad would go a long way in helping rural communities to fight droughts and hunger.

Ifad, the financial arm of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, has been working with Zimbabwe since the country became independent in 1980.

The institution has worked closely with the country in developing programmes that focus on improving the living conditions of poor rural people.

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