AgricultureBusiness Briefs

Agribank restructuring complete, ED to launch new-look Land Bank

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  • Agribank, as we know it, will now be called AFC Commercial Bank. There will also be AFC Land Bank, AFC Insurance and AFC Leasing Company.

STATE owned agriculture financier, Agribank (Pvt) Limited has been restructured and renamed to AFC Commercial Bank and will be launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa next week Friday.

The bank’s restructuring into a land bank is expected to strengthen and diversify existing agricultural and rural financial services for sustainable agranian reform for accelerated development.

A board of directors has also been appointed by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement Dr Anxoious Masuka, the Minister told Parliament yesterday.

Agribank has been hit by a combination of poor management, sanctions as well as lack of a clear strategy to take centre stage in supporting farmers, most of whom are small scale and lack traditional forms of collateral required by Commercial banks.

“The Agricultural Finance Corporation has now been reconstituted. A board has been appointed and His Excellency the President will be launching the bank on the 30th April, this month,” Masuka advised yesterday.

“So this should avail farmers opportunities as the AFC will operate four subsidiaries. Agribank, as we know it, will now be called AFC Commercial Bank. There will also be AFC Land Bank, AFC Insurance and AFC Leasing Company.”

Masuka was responding to legislator Temba Mliswa (Norton) who demanded to know Government action regards the funding of farmers.

Under the proposed model, the bank will provide investment support for A1, A2 and small scale commercial farmers who have not been supported by commercial banks.

It will link currently under-utilised land to structured markets and established value chains supplying factories, supermarkets and export markets and also provide working capital for the construction of agricultural infrastructure as well as for value addition and beneficiation enterprises.

Currently, smallholder farmers comprising Communal, Old Resettlement, Small-Scale Commercial and A1 farmers constitute 99 percent of the farming population, holding up to 95 percent of the productive land and owning over 90 percent of the national livestock herd.

Agriculture remains the core of economic recovery and growth in Zimbabwe, accounting for nearly a fifth of output and about a quarter of exports.

Meanwhile, Masuka said the Lands Commission was failing to meet its targets due to lack of resources.

“The Zimbabwe Lands Commission is very constrained in terms of the resources that are available to carry out the work that it is mandated to do. In addition to handling conflicts – just as a way of showing how overwhelmed the Zimbabwe Lands Commission is operating within the current resource constraints.

“They have 8 000 conflict cases, between and among farmers, requiring resolutions. Their capacity is 800 a year.”

Masuka said the Commission had conducted audits on about 22 000 units out of the targeted 400 000 units.

“They are in the process of compiling the second audit which will bring them to about 60 000 units. So, at that rate, it will take us three to five years, with the current resources for them to complete the audit, which is why we have complemented that aspect with a fast track audit method, where we require A1 and A2 farmers to submit productivity returns and we think with these two complementing each other in the current resource envelope, we will be able to do much more,” he said. – Zimbabwe Voice

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