Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) has raised $100 million required by the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) to support increased agriculture productivity through agro-bills.
Recently, AMA announced that it had received all regulatory approvals to raise funding through agro-bills to support increased agricultural production.
The agro-bill will provide affordable financing to farmers in horticulture and oilseeds (cottonseed, sunflower seed, soya beans, groundnuts, and Sesame) production.
“The Agricultural Marketing Authority appointed the bank as its financial advisor for the AMA agro bills. The bank has since managed to raise ZWL$100 million in respect of the bills,” said AFC in a statement after its annual general meeting this week.
To be eligible to receive agricultural loans under the $100 million facility, farmers are required to register with the marketing authority and meet other prescribed requirements.
The authority has encouraged smallholder farmers across the country to take up the loan for maximum profitability from their horticultural farming.
The initiative is part of AMA’s strategy to facilitate and structure finances through various instruments to support production and marketing of agricultural products.
The loans are set to promote development of the horticultural sector as espoused in the Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan. Increasing access to affordable financing is one of the major drivers of the ongoing agricultural transformation process.
The Second Republic has identified horticulture as one way that Zimbabwe can use to penetrate and exploit the high-value export market.
Already, macadamia nuts, sweet potatoes and avocados have proved to have high demand on the export market, and these can be cultivated with minimal resources.
The Presidential Rural Horticulture scheme has laid a solid foundation for tapping into rural agricultural potential.
Interventions such as giving rural households plant material for sweet potato and cassava, establishment of village nutrition and income gardens and youth orchards have helped to increase income and improve livelihoods.
The commercial success of horticulture is underpinned by access to inputs, adherence to best practices and access to market information and knowledge.
Meanwhile, AFC remains in a strong financial position having closed the year ended December 2020 at ZWL$8,7 billion revenue in historical cost terms, which was a significant 472 percent growth in assets compared to prior year. Growth was underpinned by continued customer support, which is a testimony to the continued consolidation of the bank’s brand on the market. — @okazunga