Agribank stops funding farmers

Agribank has stopped giving loans to both peasant and commercial farmers who default on payments, amid reports that Zanu (PF) big wigs remain the main culprits.

Addressing a Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union national congress in Masvingo last week an official with the bank, Francis Macheka, said the financial institution would stop giving financial aid to farmers in the 2014/15 agricultural season.

He said Zimbabwean farmers were dishonest as they tried by all means to evade paying back their loans. “We are no longer going to be able to give loans for farmers to purchase inputs and other necessities because farmers have been defaulting pay back their loans for years,” said Macheka. “Our operations are being crippled by this development hence we have made a decision to stop funding our farmers because they owe us a lot of money,” he said.

The financial institution is owned millions by farmers, most of them Zanu (PF) officials who borrowed money using the political muscle. Some of the funds were borrowed before the economy was dollarized and several of these officials went scot free after borrowing huge sums of money.

Highly placed sources within in the bank said that some Zanu (PF) big wigs during the Zimbabwean dollar era borrowed huge sums of money to purchase tractors and other farming equipment, but did not pay back a single cent. “The bank nearly collapsed after all the money was borrowed by senior politicians,” said the source. “In most cases the politicians did not go through the screening process as junior workers were just ordered to release funds to them,” added the source.

Agribank, formerly known as the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), was established to finance agricultural activities in the country. The corporation was later turned into a bank with the aim of making it a viable financial institution to provide funding for agricultural activities. The bank was once placed on the targeted measure list by western countries after it emerged that it was funding Zanu (PF) programmes aimed at silencing other political voices in the country.

However the bank has since been removed from the list. The Zimbabwean economy is agro-based and of late there have been calls to fund the institution properly if economic revival is to become a reality.

Post published in: Agriculture

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