THE Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) has set a target of $105 million funding support to farmers this year as part of measures to enhance growth of the sector and its contribution to the economy.
Chief executive officer, Mr Somkhosi Malaba, revealed this in a report accompanying the bank’s unaudited financial results for the half year ended June 30, 2018. He said that increasing agriculture funding was at the core of the bank’s mandate towards food security and value addition.
“The bank is targeting $105 million agriculture financing, inclusive of both on-balance and off-balance sheet financing. To date, total lending to agriculture amounted to $80 million,” said Mr Malaba.
“Financing is being extended to major subsectors of the agriculture sector such as maize, tobacco, soya, horticulture sugarcane as well as the critical fertilisers and chemical industries that support agriculture with inputs.”
The bank, Mr Malaba said, is expanding support to Command Agriculture through provision of working capital and agro-inputs including fertiliser and chemicals.
Over the past five years, Agribank has raised, through Agro bills, a cumulative $65 million in support of the agriculture sector. According to Mr Malaba, the strategy will continue into the future as the bank continues to support agricultural activity. Mr Malaba also said that Agribank, together with FBC Holdings, were in the process of raising $40 million agro-bills for the 2018/2019 summer cropping season as well as cash crops.
In an attempt to expand ICT based e-channels, Agribank is also implementing the Core Banking System upgrade in line with domestic and global banking trends. The bank acknowledged that stability of ICT based systems was critical for the survival of banks in an environment where electronic transactions have taken the lead ahead of cash transactions.