By Ndafadza Madanha
GOVERNMENT through the ministry of Agriculture says Agribank will be responsible for the disbursement of US$102m worth of agricultural equipment secured under two facilities.
In recent month’s government has secured two facilities with the Belarus government (US$52m) and agriculture equipment manufacturer John Dee (US$50m) for the supply of agriculture equipment.
The equipment includes 1000 tractors, combine harvester, and planters.
“Agribank will play an instrumental role in administering the two facilities; it will vet those who shall be eligible to ensure there is transparency and independence. We expect to receive tractors, combine harvesters, and planters in the next few weeks. We have a US$52m facility with Belarus and I was there recently and about half of our order was ready for shipment. It is the same with the US$50m John Dee facility,” said deputy minister Agriculture Vangelis Haritatos.
Haritatos said the involvement of Agribank will ensure controversy and corruption allegations that marred previous mechanization projects were avoided.
Government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) ran a mechanization programme in the early 2000s but beneficiaries of the programme failed to payback leading to the assumption of the debt by taxpayers.
He said agriculture was the backbone of the economy hence government determination to mechanize the sector.
Agribank CEO Sam Malaba said his organization was ready to play its role and ensure agriculture was supported through the provision of affordable mid-long term facilities.
He said the two facilities will be mainly targeted at productive farmers who had capacity to pay back their loans.
“The facilities are of a medium term nature and the interest is below 10 percent and we believe this is affordable. In the past farmers relied on short term facilities but we have structured these ones to ensure farmers can meet their obligations. Those who benefited from previous mechanization programmes and did not pay back will certainly not benefit from these facilities.”
Meanwhile, Malaba said the bank was on solid footing and had managed to reduce its Non Performing Loans to below seven percent while performance for the first six months of 2019 was above target.