THE country’s agriculture bank Agribank says it is committed to supporting the horticulture sector as it has the potential to be a major foreign currency earner.
Speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural three day Hortiflor expo that kicked off in the capital today, Agribank executive director Francis Macheka said the bank had identified horticulture as offering substantial growth opportunities.
“The development of Horticulture offers one big opportunity for us and in the past horticulture was at the heart of the bank. We have identified huge scope for the sector to grow and be the leading Horticulture producer in Africa by overtaking Kenya. We can still do it as not much has changed except the land utilization.
“We have a US$50m facility we are offering in partnership with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) targeted at exporters and those in the Horticulture sector can approach us. Another US$10m is also available for those who are looking to value add for the export markets should consider approaching us”
Zimbabwe used to send a plane everyday with flowers to Holland and we want to see that happening again and that is our major driver to get back our export market.
He said the facilities are competitively priced and catered for capital expenditure and working capital, equally the bank was in talks with Export Flower Growers Association of Zimbabwe (EFGAZ) to see how its membership can access the facilities.
“As you know farmers require long term capital for infrastructure and we have incorporated that and offer 36months for capex and 12 months for working capital and we are working EFGAZ to see how 20-50 farmers can be assisted.
EFGAZ chairman Gorden Makoni said the horticulture industry particularly flower growing was on the rise globally buoyed by Colombia, Kenya, Ecuador and Ethiopia with the global floral value estimated at US$55 billion as of 2016.
“Zimbabwe has some of the best climate for cut flower production and horticulture. We need to seize on this comparative advantage against our competitors and it does put us in a good stead. We call upon government to lead by ensuring this beautiful industry is well funded, land issue is stabilized and can be used as collateral as we are failing to use land as collateral to increase production,” said Makoni.