HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has secured a $300 million loan from Brazil to finance agriculture and boost crop production after successive years of food deficits, state media reported on Thursday.
The loan is part of Brazil’s aid programme for Africa, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the funds would be used to support farmers who have largely failed to get loans from local banks that are still recovering from a prolonged economic crisis.
“The ... programme is important for the country as it has managed to address some of the challenges we have been facing in securing lines of credit to support the agriculture sector that is the backbone of the economy,” Made told the newspaper.
Once a regional bread-basket, Zimbabwe has struggled to feed itself since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe’s government started to seize farms owned by whites to resettle landless blacks.
The agriculture sector has shown signs of recovery under a unity government set up two years ago by Mugabe and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, following disputed elections in 2008.
The sector is expected to grow 33 percent in 2011, according to government projections. Production of the staple maize grain has risen from 400,000 metric tonnes in 2008 to 1.45 million tonnes this year, but is still below a national requirement of 2 million tonnes.