Africa Moyo Business Reporter
AGRIBANK has secured $10 million from the Egypt-based African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which will be channelled towards capacitating agricultural exporters and value addition.
The bank’s chief executive officer Mr Sam Malaba, told delegates during last week’s annual general meeting that the sourcing of the funds is part of efforts to deepen Agribank’s support for agriculture.
“As part of efforts to expand support to agriculture, the bank has secured US$10 million from Afreximbank to support exporters, agro-processors and value addition,” said Mr Malaba.
Government is actively supporting exporters in an attempt to generate more foreign currency.
Zimbabwe is battling foreign currency shortages, which have seen some companies delaying to get raw materials and/ or spare parts from other countries due to delays in approving foreign payments.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is responsible for approving foreign payments in a bid to facilitate payments only for critical raw materials required by industry, fuel and electricity.
Recently, the central bank said it was allocating up to $90 million for fuel imports per month, making a strong case for exporters to up their game and generate more foreign currency.
Agribank is also in “advanced stages of negotiations” with a regional financier to secure a $50 million line of credit to support agriculture.
Mr Malaba said expectations are high that the transaction would be “finalised within the next two months”.
Once the line of credit is clinched, it would be a major fillip for farmers who have been facing funding challenges, particularly as preparations for the 2018/2019 summer cropping season gather momentum.
Added Mr Malaba: “The bank will widen support to agriculture in line with the thrust and focus on agriculture recovery by Government.
“The bank will expand both on balance sheet and off balance sheet lending for crops and livestock.”
Agribank also intends to raise agro-bills and secure lines of credit for agriculture interventions including support to fertiliser, chemicals and seed companies.
The bank is expected to announce that it will be raising $40 million through agro-bills for the 2018/ 2019 cropping season once “regulatory processes” have been completed.
This will be a 100 percent jump from the current level of $20 million.
Agriculture remains the mainstay of the country’s economy as reflected through its contribution to food security, job creation and foreign currency generation. The Zanu-PF 2018 manifesto recognises the centrality of agriculture in the country.
The revolutionary party says if it wins the July 30 harmonised elections, its Government will “promote inclusive development” given that agriculture provides livelihoods to over 70 percent of the population in the rural areas, most of whom are women and youths.
Zanu-PF’s manifesto says productivity in the sector has been hampered by lack of security of tenure, limited access to sustainable financing, the adverse effects of climate change, constrained access to markets and inadequate skills among some farmers.
The party wants to transform the peoples’ livelihoods through agriculture by consolidating land ownership and security of tenure; broadening access to land by all citizens; widening access to agricultural finance and inputs; promoting productivity enhancing support systems and infrastructure; and developing markets for products to earn foreign currency.
Zanu-PF promises to provide free inputs for the next five years under the Presidential Input Support Scheme for maize, soyabeans and cotton to vulnerable households.
The sector is also expected to create jobs, which is yet another aspiration of a Zanu-PF Government after polls.