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Summary : Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus .
GOVERNMENT has urged Agribank to find creative ways of raising funds as part of national efforts to circumvent US sanctions on Zimbabwe. Agribank, wholly-owned by Government, was established in 1999 with the mandate of supporting development of agriculture in Zimbabwe. An Agribank official, Mr Divine Ngwenya, told a breakfast meeting organised by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday that sanctions imposed by the United States were militating against efforts to provide cheap funds to farmers.
Agribank was sanctioned by Washington’s 2001 Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Recovery Act, which also embargoed other key state companies like the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe.
Agribank’s specific embargo was lifted last year, but the national economy remains shackled by broader sanctions that block funding to Zimbabwe. Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa said Agribank needed to “think outside the box” and develop innovative ways of financing farmers to beat the sanctions and fulfil its mandate
“Think outside the box; be agile. You can’t continue to talk of sanctions, Zimbabweans don’t accept that. “In Government we are talking about sanctions-busting and not to just mourn about sanctions. We liberated you (Agribank) a long time ago so find ways of ensuring that the bank operates viably,” said Deputy Minister Mabuwa.
Agribank CEO Mr Sam Malaba told The Sunday Mail Business that the institution would go onto the market to raise funds. “Now that we have been removed from sanctions, we can go on the market and try to raise funds. So far we have raised funds through Agro Bills and we will continue to do more initiatives,” said Mr Malaba.
In the half-year ended June 30, 2016, the lender reported a US$2,2 million profit from a loss of US$3,7 million in the same period a year ago. There are plans to raise US$20 million through Agro Bills. Farmers continue to struggle to access cheap, long-term funds to boost production.
Agriculture Deputy Minister (Livestock) Paddy Zhanda believes the “unstructured nature of agriculture financing” would continue to cripple the sector. This year Government intends to put more than 400 000 hectares under maize to produce two million tonnes.