Land Bank icing on the cake — experts

Source: Land Bank icing on the cake — experts | The Herald

Land Bank icing on the cake — experts
President Mnangagwa opens an account assisted by AFC Commercial Bank acting executive director Retail and Agriculture Development Mrs Priscilla Munyeza (right) while Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka (left) and Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube look on in Harare last week.

Fungi Kwaramba and Joseph Madzimure

UNDER the Second Republic farming is turning into a serious enterprise underpinned by robust financing models such as the Agricultural Finance Corporation Holdings (AFCH) launched by President Mnangagwa last Friday, analysts have observed.

Last week President Mnangagwa launched AFCH, which includes the new Land and Development Bank designed to boost and formalise finance for farmers across the full range, from communal land-holders to large commercial farmers.

The AFC, which is wholly-owned by Government was launched following the restructuring of Agribank and comprises four subsidiaries: the AFC Commercial Bank, the AFC Land and Development Bank, AFC Insurance and AFC Leasing Company.

This is coming at a time when the country is expecting a bumper harvest, thanks to good rains received across the country and the Government’s focus on once overlooked communal farmers turning them into communal/commercial farmers who can now venture full-time into cash crop production.

It also comes at a time when President Mnangagwa has said there is no place for moonlighting and entitlement under the Second Republic.

He said his Government values creativity, initiative, and persistence towards fulfilling both Zanu PF 2018 elections manifesto and also the National Development Strategy 1.

Economist and researcher Mr Alex Munyonga said the President has made a giant stride towards actualising the agricultural potentiality that has not been fully utilised.

“The aggression that Zimbabwe received from the West following the Land Reform programme signalled and affirmed the envy that the West have for wealthy Zimbabwean agricultural and human resources. Without bold and vibrant agricultural policies and financial support, Zimbabwe continued to starve amid abundance.

“It is refreshing to hear the President reading the riot act and calling all agricultural stakeholders to hit the ground running. Quite several individuals indeed enjoy entitlements to land with minute to no contribution to the national fiscus through production.

“Farming is a business and should be treated thus. With a plenitude of qualified agricultural personnel churned from tertiary institutions year-by-year, support through the Land Bank will be a breakthrough for Zimbabwean socio-economic transformation,” Mr Munyonga said.

He said it has to be noted that the success of this project will be a wake-up call for most African countries who are so nearer to their natural resources yet so estranged from the proceeds.

“As such Zimbabwe has to brace for stumbling blocks coming from the country’s detractors as they try to prove that Zimbabwe is incapable of extricating herself from economic mud without the help of foreign aid.

“What Zimbabwe needs to do then is to make sure that there is accountability in the distribution of the resources. There should also be strict monitoring and evaluation of productivity trends.

“As such all stakeholders should hit the ground running, support the noble Land Bank initiative from the President, be accountable and see Zimbabwe enjoying Vision 2030 goals. If well implemented and monitored, the Land Bank will seal the ‘leaking seams’ of the Land Reform program,” he said.

Renowned economic analyst Luxon Zembe said farming is a serious business that also requires farmers to put shoulder to the wheel and service their loans.

“As an established businessman and professional farmer myself, I can tell you that farming is serious and high-risk business that demands professionalism, dedication, resourcefulness, and business acumen.

“Land reform is not about giving people free farming inputs for the rest of their lives. The free inputs support scheme was just a quick start, not a feeding scheme. As they say in business, if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, get out. Others are able and capable out there,” he said.

Respected lawyer Mr Obert Gutu said commercial agriculture is basically a business enterprise and it should always be run as such, premised on banking models that ensure both profitability and sustainability.

“In any normal business enterprise, if you access a loan facility from a financial institution, you are expected to repay the loan on agreed terms and conditions. In the world of business, there’s absolutely no free lunch.

“There are no freebies. President Mnangagwa is on point by stating that the entitlement syndrome should be relegated to the annals of history. Farmers, once they have been empowered and capacitated, both financially and technically, are expected to be productive and to earn a profit from their farming enterprises.

“Otherwise, why should one call themselves a commercial farmer when, in reality, they’re just idle visitors to their farms where they retreat for weekend barbecues and a few drinks,” he said.

Since farming is serious business, the analysts opined that the new approach will help farmers realise that they cannot be given free agricultural inputs.

Another political analyst Mr Collen Mharadzano said the Second Republic is engendering a new culture and ethos which speak to productivity in the economic arena.

“Corruption is anathema and alien to the new approach being spearheaded by President Mnangagwa. The new approach encompasses innovation, honesty and hard work as the key drivers to the dawn of a new epoch for the country.

“The major economic benefits which have been derived from multi-faceted infrastructural projects are even yet to be quantified.

“Those projects will trigger an anticipated boom in the economy in the not-so-distant future. The current leadership has a solid vision comparable to that of Deng Xiaoping, the visionary Chinese statesman.

“Only the myopic minded will escape this monumental transformation which is laying a colossal foundation for the realisation of an Upper Middle Income Economy by the year 2030. It’s indeed on course for that,” he said.

At the launch of the new bank, the President said following the conclusion of the irreversible land reform, the focus should now turn to increased productivity, profitability, and sustainability, with the finance company part of efforts to improve the operations of the agriculture sector and align its transformation to the National Development Strategy 1 and Vision 2030, to become an upper-middle-class economy.

The National Development Strategy 1 envisages an average economic growth of five percent in the next five years and employment creation through knowledge and technology-driven upper-middle-income society as encapsulated in Vision 2030.

This multi-pronged approach of the strategies, that apart from the agriculture sector, also include having a US$12 billion mining economy by 2025 and is designed to see Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans become wealthier, with everyone able to participate and no one, even the most vulnerable, left behind.