Agribank sets aside $100 mln for 2018/19 cropping season

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LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Agribank  set aside $100 million for the 2018/2019 summer cropping season as  Zimbabwe’s premier agriculture financing institution moves to increase productivity on the farms.

Agribank CEO Sam Malaba told Business Times that the bank continues to do well since it reverted to its core business in 2017. The thrust had enabled it to cover more farmers and reduce non-performing loans.

“The bank’s facilities for the 2018/2019 summer cropping season amounts to over $100 million with all crops covered and all farmers categories included.

“The financial institution also partnered the Central Bank in loan facilities that attract a 10 percent interest and are payable within 12 months for working capital and up to 36 months for capital expenditure,” Malaba said.

He added that the uptake of the RBZ and Agribank Value Addition and Business Linkages Facility to Farmers and Agro Processers has been good and under this $10 million facility, the bank has disbursed $9,4 million.

These funds have supported farmers and entities involved in value addition of crops such as tomatoes, groundnuts, peas, tea, coffee and poultry production. The absence of affordable funding on the market has been the major drawback to increased agriculture output since the turn of the millennium.

The bank is also supporting the More Food Programme (Brazil Facility) under which more than 4 000 farmers have benefited under 36 irrigation schemes. The funding entails financing of working capital, especially targeting farmers dealing in strategic crops like maize, soya, sugar cane as well as horticultural crops.

Agribank has also entered into contract farming financing key and strategic crops such as soyabeans, maize and horticultural produce through financing both primary producers (farmers) and off-takers (corporates).

In this regard, the bank has on-going partnerships works with Schweppes through Best Fruit Processors in Norton and cooking oil producers, including ZimGold.