Financial institutions supporting agriculture have been implored to conduct outreach programmes as a way of cutting travelling expenses for Hurungwe farmers wishing to apply for loans.
Officiating at a Business Expo held at Magunje Growth Point recently, Minister of State for Mashonaland West Province, Mary Mliswa Chikoka, said banks, particularly those financing farmers, must consider visiting their clients in their respective communities as a way of freeing them from travelling costs associated with accessing bank loans.
Minister Mliswa told officials manning the Agribank Exhibition Stand, that the farmers’ bank must consider outreach programmes in which the application forms would be accessed and minor processes finalised at community level.
She said it was becoming very expensive and inconveniencing for some farmers from remote parts of Hurungwe like Chirariro, Chundu and some parts of Tengwe to apply for loans since they had to folk out huge sums of money on travelling before they even accessed the loan forms.
She highlighted that with only two branches in Hurungwe (at Karoi and Magunje) Agribank must consider other means of assisting the huge number of farmers in different parts of Hurungwe.
“Imagine farmers in Chirariro and Chundu down there who have to travel very long distances to the banks. Instead of farmers in Tengwe also going to Karoi for services I think it is also good for Agribank to set up a banking agency at Tengwe Centre considering that Tengwe is a strong hub of agriculture in Hurungwe. You must remember that your banking business hinges on these farmers and as such, you must assist them by going to them and providing services.
“You can set up convenient venues, dates and times at which the farmers can gather and get assisted in terms of application for loans in their different communities. It is only at the level of loan disbursement that you can then ask your clients to travel to the bank,” she said.
The business expo, which was held under the theme, “Driving into Real Investment” was organised by Hurungwe Rural District Council as a way of attracting investment with potential to improve the council’s fiscal space in order to address challenges that include unemployment, bad road networks, lack of access to clean water and primary health care among others.
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka said she was delighted that the first ever business expo to be held in Hurungwe was going to turn into a fast growing yearly event given the twinning MOUs that Mashonaland West had signed with Gansu Province of China, the Southern Province of Zambia and the Kavango East Region of Namibia.