Agribank to rebrand

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GWERU – Agribank will re-brand to Land and Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe in March, a government minister has said.

Speaking during a tour of Insukamini Irrigation Scheme, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka said the bank’s mandate would be expanded after re-branding.

Agribank executive director for retail banking and agricultural development, Francis Macheka – who accompanied Masuka – said the bank would be split into two, namely Agribank and Land Bank.

“Land Bank is considered to be a development finance institution. We have small holder farmers here who might not be considered by commercial banks.

“The Land Bank will be tolerant to development work…in other words there are a lot of things that banks ask for when they want to finance people and some of them – small farmers might not meet the requirements.

“When you have a development bank, you are able to structure facilities that are suitable for even the smallest farmer at the grassroot level rather than just a bank that is only responsible for large scale commercial farming and this is why government is very adamant that we need to have this bank established and start operations by 30 March.

“This is so that when we do the summer cropping for 2021, we have much more activity in the rural and smallholder farming areas,” he said.

Macheka expressed hope the Land Bank will meet the aspirations of smallholder farmers like what the Agriculture Finance Corporation used to do.

The bank, he said, will create a lot of employment as there will be officers who will visit the farming areas to assess and help farmers structure their facilities in their localities.

He said there will also be officers who will be trained in agriculture who will advise farmers as well as assist them in market development.

Macheka said there will be a leasing unit that will be complimentary to the bank that will lease equipment to smallholder farmers.

Under the National Development Strategy (NDS1), government is expecting economic growth through agriculture, by resolving the security of land tenure and adoption of climate smart agriculture strategies.

The NDS1 will facilitate access to affordable agricultural financing through various strategies including, establishing a Land Bank, strengthening the use of Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs), as well as reviewing the contract farming and agricultural marketing frameworks to cover all crops and livestock. – New Ziana