Speed up agro change, farmers urged

MAJORITY of Zambian farmers, particularly small-scale farmers, have very low levels of mechanisation and sually depend on hand tools and rudimentary implements for ultivation.

STANBIC Bank has urged farmers to accelerate agricultural diversification to mitigate possible agriculture produce price shocks.
Stanbic Bank head of agribusiness Leon Kotze, who observed that the country’s agriculture sector has in the last 10 years been witnessing increased production in other crops such as wheat and soya beans, said diversification will go a long way in hedging against price shocks.

Making a presentation at the just-ended Copperbelt Province Mining, Agriculture and Trade exhibition, Mr Kotze said agricultural diversification holds the key to sustained production.
He also advised farmers to keep a track record of their farming activities to help commercial banks provide the right financial support.
“It is important for farmers to understand the environment and trends in the industry which will help in making sound decision-making. Farmers also look at their cash flows and gauge the right time to invest in the diversification of their businesses and to ensure that their crops do not suffer,” he said.
He said there is need for farmers to measure and monitor the life cycles of their commodities and the various strategies they can apply to ensure their businesses remain sustainable in the face of external shocks.
Mr Kotze also noted that loan repayment among farmers has improved.
“Between 2007 to 2009, non-performing loans in the agriculture sector were quite high at above 30 percent for all bank funding that was channelled to the agriculture sector, but between 2010 and 2013 the sector rebounded with improved production and better prices, which saw non-performing loans come down to levels of 10 percent,” he said.
He pledged the bank’s commitment to continue supporting the sector.
In 2016, Stanbic Bank was declared the ‘Best Agribusiness Bank in Zambia’ by the Global Banking and Finance Review following the bank’s investment of US$200 million in the local agriculture sector.


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