08 Jan 2019
Stanbic Bank Zambia has boosted its investment in Zambia’s agricultural sector by means of supporting agro-value chain players, Lusakatimes.com reports.
For the last few decades, Zambia has been working towards long-term sustainable growth by relying less on copper mining and focusing on other sectors, namely agriculture.
Stanbic Bank, which has recently been voted the best bank in Zambia by EMEA Finance and the Financial Times Banker’s awards, has aided the transition by actively promoting sustainable national development through economic diversification.
Keegy Zambia Ltd Managing Director, Chongo Kasongole, said that Zambia’s agriculture sector would need mechanisation to expand.
“Zambia is sitting at a crossroad. We have the potential to be a regional food basket; we have climatic and political stability. We also have the capacity to make agriculture one the country’s main drivers of the economy thanks to our vast land and water resources,” said Kasongole.
“However, the country is still a long way from feeding the sub-Saharan region due to inadequate investment in agriculture, hence the sector continues to face challenges that are hindering sustainable growth.”
“Some of these hindrances include low levels of mechanisation stifling production, especially among smallholder farmers. While there is urgent need to overturn this situation and improve the level of mechanisation, significant results will only be realised through concerted efforts from all stakeholders including government, value chain players, farmers and financial institutions.”
He went on to say, “Financial institutions have a big role to play in facilitating easier access to farming equipment through the creation of sector appropriate services and products that allow even small-scale farmers to mechanise and improve production.”
Data provided by A Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which is an international organisation that aims to improve agricultural products as well as support local farm owners, revealed that mechanisation can increase productivity by at least 50%.
Yet Africa is still one of the least mechanised continents on the planet. The World Bank revealed that for every 1,000 farmers, there are an estimated five tractors – unlike in, per se, the USA, where there are 1,600 tractors for every 1,000 farmers.
Kasongole notes that the price at which these items come into the country is the greatest disadvantage, and that Keegy is attempting to solve this problem by providing a leasing programme which would supply equipment on a temporary lease basis, permitting farmers to use the machinery as long as it is later returned.
The initiative has been praised and made good use of already. Stanbic’s dedication towards the agro sector – having invested more than US$200 million and earning the award of ‘Best Agribusiness Bank in Zambia 2017’ – further highlights the importance of financial institutions assisting in the growth of agribusinesses, and consequently, the economy.