AGRIBANK has started disbursing funds under the $6 million livestock facility availed by Government to revive the livestock sector and is calling on more farmers to apply for the funds.
Government came up with the facility, which is being administered by Agribank, after realising the challenges affecting the livestock sector.
Agribank’s head (of) strategy, marketing and business development Mr Joseph Mverecha, told The Herald Business last week that the facility is targeted at all livestock farmers across the country.
“We have a $6 million facility provided by Government for on-lending to farmers. It is a facility particularly dedicated for the resuscitation of the livestock industry in the country; the beef, dairy, goats, sheep, all the way down to piggery, poultry; everything that is livestock,” said Mr Mverecha.
“It’s part of ongoing support to farmers as part of his Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa)’s Vision 2030 of an Upper Middle-Income economy where we are saying we want to see agriculture growth to the extent of anchoring economy growth.
“Livestock is an integral part of this Vision (2030); we want Zimbabwe to reclaim her spot as a premier beef nation as we were in the 1990s when we were exporting to Europe and all over Africa. We also want to restore the dairy industry; we know it will take more than $6 million but it’s a step in the right direction particularly to the extent that it has both components of capex (capital expenditure) and working capital.”
Capital expenditure is for livestock infrastructure such as paddocks, and is repayable in between three and five years, while working capital is for financing day-to-day operations. The facility has an all-inclusive interest rate of 6 percent per year, making it arguably the cheapest in the country considering that individual loans attract interest rates of up to 20 percent.
Mr Mverecha said while the facility is for the whole country, they want more farmers in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces to apply since there is “huge potential for livestock” in those areas.
“It would be our desire if more of those came with cattle fattening projects, or longer term livestock rebuilding or similar such projects.
“We are ready for such farmers,” he said.
Agribank relationship officer Mr Lamuel Chaza, also said the funds are open for meat producers and breeders who supply meat producers with their stock.
“So breeders are also welcome to apply for the facility under the same conditions; working capital repayments are up to 12 months and capital expenditure is up to five years depending on the enterprise.
“For cattle, it’s five years and for smaller livestock like poultry and pigs, it’s up to three years. If you want to add 50 heifers, for instance, we also fund that,” said Mr Chaza.
To access the loan, farmers just have to open an account with Agribank and apply.
The bank will visit their farms for assessments and if approved, disbursements are automatic.
Farmers have been implored to come up with complementary projects such as cattle and goat rearing.
Goat rearing is encouraged since it can be undertaken with a small capital and limited land.
Young and female farmers are also encouraged to apply, in line with Government’s deliberate efforts to support those previously marginalised groups of society. Agribank wants immovable collateral as a “fall-back position” but is not rigid on that since some people have houses, and not necessarily good farmers.
Farmers with “verifiable off-take arrangements” with companies willing to take some of the products, such as Surrey Abattoirs and Koala Abattoirs are welcome.