BY TAFADZWA MHLANGA
Banc ABC says it has set aside funds to benefit farmers in the 2019/20 farming season.This comes after the 2018/19 farming season was greatly affected by poor rainfall, resulting in a serious drought. Lack of funding for irrigation and horticulture also contributed to the poor harvests.
“We are very aggressive in providing funding in various sectors and we are going to fund the agricultural sector more, so that the country recovers from the drought that we experienced in the previous farming season,” Banc ABC managing director Lance Mambondiani said, without disclosing the amount.
According to the 23rd Southern African Regional Climate Forum, the country is expected to receive normal rainfall from October to December and normal to below normal rainfall between January and March next year.
Due to this forecasted rainfall pattern, farmers have been encouraged to consider irrigation in order to avoid another crop failure.
Mambondiani said the bank had already started funding some agricultural projects in a bid to improve the country’s imports and revive the economy.
“We have also started funding the agricultural sector and other sectors that we feel require assistance for them to go to the next level. We are funding them especially for the reasons of improving the country’s exports to revive the country’s economy,” he said.
“If you know the Chiredzi sugarcane farm, where sugar cane production is done, we are already working with them, funding their operations among other projects. We believe more in impact rather than profit, profit will always come after impact. We use the little opportunity that we have to be a key player in this sector,” he added
Zimbabwe was for many years known as the breadbasket of Africa, exporting wheat, tobacco, and corn to the wider world, especially to other African nations and is yet to return its former glory.
In the past, farmers have struggled to access credit, risk mitigation products and well-functioning farming machines because they have had no collateral security, among many other requirements by financial institutions.
Mambondiani said the bank was taking advantage of being part of the pan-African banking institution by using their financial strengths to fund institutions that are lagging behind in this economic environment.
“We are privileged to be part of the pan-African banking institution and we are building in several other markets. We kind of leverage on the strengths of our colleagues in the region to give us the strengths we require to become the strong financial institution we are,” Mambondiani said.
The managing director said the bank believes in partnerships with like-minded organisations to cut operational costs in this harsh economic environment.
“It’s extremely tough operating in this environment, not only for this bank, but for all businesses that are operating in this environment, but we strongly believe in partnerships. We believe that when things are hard you don’t have to build anything on your own. Make sure that you are holding hands and partner with like-minded people who kind of allow us to reduce costs a little and scale-up as quickly as possible, (instead of building) things on our own,” he said.
The financial institution also partnered with the Harare City Council to help solve the water and refuse collection problems in the capital and improve service provision.