ZIMBABWE’S biggest lender, CBZ Holdings Ltd, has so far extended just under 50 percent of the $50 million earmarked for loans for the 2015/16 farming season, an official has said.
CBZ Holdings Ltd marketing and corporate affairs executive, Mrs Laura Gwatiringa said the banking group had advanced $23,8 million to farmers as of January this year.
However, the advances are markedly lower than the $337 million that CBZ Holdings loaned out to horticulture, wheat, maize, piggery, poultry, soya, cotton, dairy, beef and crocodile farming during the 2014/15 period. “We are still disbursing as we are in the midst of the farming season which lasts until end of September 2016,” said Mrs Gwatiringa last week.
Economists feel the current drought will likely make the targeted 1,8 percent growth in agriculture unachievable. Farmer organisations say many farmers have delayed planting crops due to poor rains. There are also concerns that banks may be cutting back on loans to agriculture in order to reduce their exposure to crop losses.
The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, whose members set aside a $1 billion purse for agriculture for the current farming season, told The Sunday Mail Business last week that it didn’t have readily available figures on the exact amount advanced to farmers.
More than $598 million was supposed to be channelled towards tobacco farming.
CBZ will likely roll over some facilities to farmers, depending on their circumstances.
“As CBZ Bank, we have been assisting our clients to put up irrigation infrastructure. In addition, there are areas receiving near normal rainfall as well as agricultural projects that are not too dependent on rainfall patterns.
“Any affected farmers’ positions will be analysed and justifiable cases can be rolled over to the next season,” said Mrs Gwatiringa.Government recently announced that inputs worth $28 million were supposed to be delivered to 300 000 smallholder farmers in the current cropping season. The Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit (Zeparu), a local think tank, believes the El Nino phenomenon is a serious threat to local food security.