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Credit, digital banking gets closer to farmers

KALONDE NYATI Lusaka: MORE than 10,000 micro, small and medium[1]scale farmers and entrepreneurs will access tailored credit and digital banking solutions across the country.

This follows a partnership between Zanaco and GIZ, a German development cooperation agency, which seeks to accelerate agriculture in the country through the provision of financial literacy training and capacity building to farmers.

Zanaco chief executive officer Mukwandi Chibesakunda said under the partnership, 10,000 micro, small and medium-scale farmers and 200 entrepreneurs will access tailored credit and digital banking solutions, thus helping in achieving food security.

“Food security is important for any nation. The farmers that we will support through this partnership contribute to the sustenance of food security in our country and we are confident that the partnership will enhance their contribution,” Mrs Chibesakunda said yesterday.

She said Zanaco, which remains the top transactional bank, will use its existing solution, Agripay, which is a digital financial solution targeted at the financially excluded micro, small and medium-scale farmers, to offer solutions. So far, the bank has been able to offer low-cost transaction solutions and valuable farming information to more than 7,000 farmers under the Agripay platform.

And GIZ country director Helmut Hauschild said the organisation is working in various areas with a commitment of €71.5 million between 2015 and 2023.

The areas include promotion of agricultural finance for agri-based enterprises in rural areas, which has seen about 6,000 farmers being trained in financial literacy, developed financial products such as input loans for farmers with €1.6 million being disbursed, and agriculture risk insurance around climate change.

Mr Hauschild said the partnership will go a long way in taking financial solutions to the poor.

And German embassy deputy head of development cooperation, Jonathan Gatzer, said access to finance is an important part to venture into new value chains to grow agricultural businesses, especially for the private sector.

“The difficult economic situation of Zambia is putting additional burdens and threats not only to farmers but to the financial sector. Germany is in close discussion with our partners in Government on these challenges and hence we see the need to support the agricultural finance sector,” Mr Gatzer said.

He also said there can be no rural development without private sector engagement and access to finance, hence the need for collaboration, which focuses on supporting commercial banks and micro[1]finance institutions. Mr Gatzer commended Zanaco for spearheading agricultural finance in Zambia and introducing digital financial services to the sector.