The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Agribank Requests Additional Funds

Agribank has requested additional funds from Government after it received loan applications of nearly US$29 million against an allocation of US$15 million for onward lending to farmers.

The bank's chief executive officer Mr Sam Malaba said of the US$15 million, the Government had so far released US$5 million.

He said the bank had submitted a request to the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development for the release of the remaining US$10 million.

"The bank has received applications in excess of US$28,7 million and it is, therefore, clear that the demand for funding will exceed availability of funds," said Mr Malaba.

He said to date 296 farmers had benefited from the loan facility.

Mr Malaba said most farmers were complaining of perceived delays in processing of applications, the requirement to provide security and failure by the bank to accept 99-year leases as security.

He said farmers in arrears on previous facilities with Agribank and other financial institutions were not being considered.

"The bank has managed to speed up processing of applications by fast tracking applications of known capable farmers without undertaking farm visits prior to disbursements of funds," said Mr Malaba.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Trust, Mrs Depinah Nkomo said most farmers were failing to access funding as they did not meet the requirements.

"It is difficult for an ordinary farmer to meet the requirements and most of the people who can easily access the loans are not even in farming," she said.

"Some people benefit from facilities meant to assist farmers and they end up buying posh cars."

The Government is in the process of making amendments so that the 99-year leases can be accepted as security by banks.

The fund benefits A2 farmer in a high rainfall maize growing area and is strictly for capable maize farmers with good track record and good loan repayment record.

All lending above US$30 000 must be secured by tangible security, while facilities below US$30 000 can be considered without security.

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