THE European Union on Wednesday pledged over $110 million to support the Zimbabwe’s agriculture industry under a five-year fund as the bloc resumes direct aid to the southern African country.
The EU lifted its 12-year suspension of direct financial aid to the government of Zimbabwe, imposed after allegations of rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe’s administration citing improvements in the political environment after the adoption of a new constitution and peaceful, if disputed polls, last year.
Despite the sanctions, The EU remained a major donor to Zimbabwe and channelled funds through non-governmental organisations and multi-lateral agencies, spending ₤1,5 billion ($2 billion) since 2002.
The equipment donated was funded by EU and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and will be used to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate agriculture projects for the rural areas.
The money is part of the ₤234 million ($300 million funding programme announced on October 30 last year to support health, agriculture and governance initiatives through the European Development Fund (EDF)’s National Indicative Programme.
The EDF is the instrument for EU aid for development co-operation in Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific countries and the Overseas Countries and Territories.
On Wednesday, the EU donated agriculture equipment worth $600 000 to the government and its envoy to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, said the bloc would raise its support levels.
“I am particularly glad to confirm now that we will step up our continued commitment to agriculture over the next years significantly and in various ways,” he said.
“The amount of the EU support to the sector will further increase. Under the 11th EDF, ₤88 million or more than $110 million has been earmarked for agriculture as engine of economic growth,” said Van Damme.
“This initial amount will be topped up by funds originating from specific food security and climate change budget lines.”
— The Source