Tobacco leads in ZB loans uptake

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Listed financial services group, ZB Financial Holdings (ZBFH) says tobacco has topped the list in loan uptake for agriculture projects.

The lender’s group chief executive officer, Ron Mutandagayi, told
Business Times that the interest rate for the loans is 35% per
annum.

“So far tobacco farmers have the highest uptake rate of our agriculture
loans, with beef and poultry doing good but maize and other categories
have not been taking loans as we have expected,” Mutandagayi said.

Mutandagayi, however, did not reveal how much was deployed
towards tobacco.

He said he would check the actual figures and revert.
But, he had not done so by the time of going to print. Several phone calls
to his mobile went unanswered.

Business Times however understand that ZB had set aside ZWL$132.5m for tobacco farming, ZWL$135m for beef production, ZWL$30m for dairy, ZWL$82.5m for plantations, ZWL$80m for poultry and the balance to other crops.

Apparently, the highest uptake was in the tobacco sub-sector, according to Mutandagayi.

Despite ZB coming up with stringent rules on lending security there is a small loan chunk which some farmers without security can benefit
from agro bills, structures guarantees and overdrafts.

This was done to help farmers who are producing but do not have
security.

This comes at a time when most farmers are not able to access cash for
farming from banks due to stringent conditions as financial institutions
battle to fight non- performing loans (NPLs).

Most banks are now cautious when giving loans to farmers as most banks recorded the highest number of NPLs during 2002 to 2008 period
where most f a r m e r s did not r e p a y loans.

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