The African Development Bank is looking to finance an agricultural high tech value chain development programme in Zimbabwe to the tune of nearly $20 million, an official said.
Horticulture and beef have been identified as critical value chains that need urgent support for agricultural transformation, AfDB senior policy analyst Eric Mariga said recently.
The project, which will be taken to the board for approvals soon, consist of three components — beef development, horticulture development as well as technical assistance.
“We believe these value chains are critical for Zimbabwe’s economic development,” Mr Mariga said in a sideline interview at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress in Bulawayo. “As a bank, we will continue helping Zimbabwe.”
The project would be implemented in five districts in Gweru, Marondera, Beitbridge, Chimanimani and Bulawayo, with direct beneficiaries of 2 900 and 20 000 indirect beneficiaries.
In the 80s and early 90s, the country faired well as a beef exporter. Zimbabwe had an annual beef quota to the European Union of 9 100 tonnes before the country was suspended from exporting to the bloc in 2001 following an outbreak of foot and mouth.
Mr Mariga said reviving the industry presented high employment opportunities for both women and youths. The project would be anchored around private sector operators and communal farmers to ensure ownership of the project after project close-up.
The horticulture project encompasses the construction of green houses for the production of seedlings targeting women and youth farm groups.
Through the provision of seedling propagation infrastructure such as greenhouses and irrigation technology equipment, the project will benefit communal farmers in the selected districts.
The project will also offer a platform for women and youth to help them exporting their produce.
The technical assistance facility will be used to build the capacity of commercial and smallholder farmers and other value chain actors (women and youth), including assisting them in linking to markets and enhancing business skills and financial literacy.
In addition, this component encompasses modalities that engage the private sector entities to make sure implementation happens on the ground. The AfDB has proposed an investment of about $19 million while the government will provide 2,3 million.
The AfDB has drawn lessons from similar agriculture value chain development projects in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
The bank has considerable experience in implementing agriculture in Zimbabwe including the Lake Harvest Aquaculture Project, (owned by a private firm) and the FAPA Support to the Beef and Leather Value Chain.