ZIMBABWE – CBZ Bank, a commercial bank in Zimbabwe is set to bankroll 30, 000 ha under command agriculture soyabeans growing for 2019/2020 summer cropping season to boost adequate production of the cooking oil raw material and cut the import bill.

According to a study conducted by the Zimbabwe Economic Policy and Research Unit (Zeparu), the current output from soya production falls short of the national demand of 600,000 metric tonnes required for oil expressing.

The drive to ramp up soyabean production comes at a time when the country’s cooking oil sector is operating at 25% capacity due to shortages of soyabeans and foreign currency to import the crude oil.

According to Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement deputy minister, Vangelis Haritatos, “CBZ has come on board specifically to finance 30, 000 hectares of soyabeans under the Command Agriculture where we want to increase production and reduced the import bill we spend on buying edible oil raw materials for the production of cooking oil.’’

While the exact figures are not yet clear, CBZ is expected to fork out close to ZWL$800 million (US$2.2m) on the funding of the leguminous crop.

On the same note, Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s banking subsidiary, CABS, is planning to invest over ZWL$152m in the forth­coming 2019/2020 summer crop­ping season in an effort to improve productivity in the agriculture sector.

“Last year, we supported agriculture to the tune of ZWL$152m (US$420,000) and we hope to support it to such levels again this year. We will be giving loans to anyone who qualifies, not specifically largescale farmers only,” said Simon Hammond, CABS managing director

CABS works through off-takers who then decide to subcontract to the surrounding smallscale farmers rather than lending them directly to individuals. Its thrust is to fund the whole farming value chain to improve productivity on A1 and A2 farms.

The bank’s support for smallholder farmers is in tandem with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s aspirations for financial inclusion aimed at embracing unbanked societies.

In most instances, the bank advances fees for farming activities which include horticulture, wheat, maize, piggery, poultry, soya, cotton, dairy and beef production.