The restructuring of Agribank to land bank is expected to be complete by end of March, according to Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka.
Once complete, it will entail the bank being able to provide investment support to A1, A2 and small-scale commercial farmers.
Government approved the proposal to reconfigure Agribank into a land bank last year.
The bank used to be called the Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC), which advanced short-term, medium-term and long-term agricultural loans to farmers.
The new bank will be called the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe.
Masuka said the restructured financial institution was expected to give farmers more comprehensive services. “That’s why we have reconfigured it to say it is not the responsibility of the Ministry to ensure farmers are taken from one point to the other towards this journey of achieving an upper middle income economy status by 2030.
“But the whole Government approach requires that Agribank as a financier be there to offer comprehensive services to the farmers,” he said.
The restructuring of the bank is meant to support Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Recovery Plan.
“Very soon by 31 March, they will now be called Land and Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe and their model fits the financing of such schemes like the irrigation schemes in the country,” said Masuka.
“For example, there are 450 irrigation schemes in the country and they occupy 26 000 hectares, so it’s an incredible area that we must see to it that it is financed to achieve optimum production.
“The land bank will link currently under-utilised land to structured markets and established value chains supplying factories, supermarkets and export markets and also provide working capital for the construction of agricultural infrastructure as well as for value addition and beneficiation enterprises,” he said.
Agribank executive director for retail banking and agricultural development Francis Macheka, said the bank would cater for farmers including those that are presently deprived of commercial financial services.
He said the new Land Bank will be considered as a development finance institution catering for small farmers.
“The land bank is considered to be a development finance institution. You see what we have now is we have smallholder farmers who under normal circumstances when we consider a commercial bank, they might not be considered very efficiently. So, we therefore we want an institution which is tolerant to the development needs of the small holder farmers and this land bank is expected to do that,” said Macheka.