Zimbabwe: Land Bank to Transform Agric Financing - Minister

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23 April 2021

Walter Nyamukondiwa — Kariba Bureau

GOVERNMENT is transforming Agribank into the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) Land Bank to meet increased appetite for farmers' financing needs.

This is expected to oil the transition from land reform to productivity and profitability through filling the gap left by banks that have been reluctant to provide loans to farmers without collateral and preferred security of tenure, including the 99-year leases and offer letters.

President Mnangagwa is expected to launch the AFC Land Bank soon.

Farmers who have struggled to get financial support outside Government agriculture programmes like Command Agriculture, have welcomed the development.

It will target the 18 000 (A2 farmers) and 360 000 (A1 farmers), at least 35 000 villages and 1,8 million households across the country who are expected to get production loans.

Government has been reluctant to accede to demands by banks to have 99-year leases that are transferable as collateral saying it was an overt attempt to reverse the land reform programme.

Speaking during a recent tour of aquaculture projects in Kariba, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka said the bank would spur productivity and empower local farmers.

"This is a bank for farmers and those who are into production," said Minister Masuka.

"Of the 35 000 villages in the country, there are 1,8 million households and everyone got inputs under Pfumvudza and God has been gracious enough to provide adequate rains. All those people together with the 18 000 A2 farmers and 360 000 A1 farmers will need a bank and this is their bank."

While discussions with other commercial banks on conditions for getting loans to support production are ongoing, Minister Masuka said, the Land Bank was providing a window of opportunity for farmers.

The bank will not consider a tenure document as the basis for accessing a loan but that you are a Zimbabwean, project bankability and viability.

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