By Ndafadza Madanha
ZB Bank has availed a US$10m facility for horticulture players in the country as it seeks to bolster production in the sector and enhance export earnings.
Horticulture was once a significant earner of foreign currency with the sector contributing 15% of total exports in 2009 however, last year the figure stood at less than one percent of total exports
ZB chief executive Roy Mutandagayi said the facility is targeted at those with export markets.
“We have a US$10m facility for horticulture players with an export market as the facility needs to be repaid in foreign currency. The tenure for those who are successful is one year with an option for extension and to date the uptake is good. We understand the sector requires long term capital for retooling and we are working on that”.
Among the prime destinations for Zimbabwe horticulture produce during its heyday were the European and American markets.
According to Zimtrade the horticulture sector faces a lot of challenges that include lack of capital, logistical challenges, and technical expertise.
Mutandagayi said agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and the bank was looking at further opportunities in the sector.
“We are also looking at supporting tobacco growers and we are negotiating for credit lines so that we can move in that space, the tobacco crop for this year was good and that is very encouraging”.
He said the growth recorded in agriculture over the last two years had seen deposits by the sector to the bank increase 144 percent to US$28m for the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year. Deposits from the agriculture sector now constitute three percent of total bank deposits
The bank also saw advances to the agriculture sector grow by two percent to US$13m in the first half of 2018 while non performing loans from the sector tumbled by 33percent.