Steward Bank has partnered with businesses under parent company Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe to launch AgroFuture, a new agribusiness product that is set to improve agricultural production in the country.
The product – to be delivered in partnership with Cassava entities EcoCash, EcoSure, Vaya, Moovah, and EcoFarmer – offers tailor-made solutions to specific needs of the agriculture value chain.
Steward Bank Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Courage Mashavave said there was a need to boost productivity in agriculture to ensure that the country produces enough to meet national demand and reduce the food import bill.
“Agriculture and food security are at the core of basic survival for the general populace across the country, hence the support of agribusiness activities will certainly have a great economic and social impact,” said Mr. Mashavave, announcing the AgroFuture product.
“Our product will offer solutions focused on enhancing agricultural production by providing access to finance and key innovations to farmers, rural agro-dealers, aggregators and manufacturing companies,” he said
The agricultural sector in Zimbabwe employs and provides income for close to 70 percent of the country’s population. It also supplies about 60 percent of the raw materials required by the manufacturing industry.
However, production in the sector has declined over the past few years due to poor farming methods, lack of information and research, changing weather patterns, and inadequate financing, among other things. This has seen the country spend hundreds of millions of dollars in food and agriculture-related imports annually.
Mr. Mashavave said Steward Bank had made external, strategic partnerships with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United States Development Finance Corporation, and the International Finance Corporation to provide comprehensive and holistic solutions that leverage technology to deliver value in agriculture for the country.
“AgroFuture reaffirms Steward Bank’s position as the everyday bank for everyday people, as the package has solutions for all stages of the farming process, from preparations, production to the selling of the product,” he said, adding that some of the solutions Steward Bank clients should look out for including Agric Mobile, an instant account-opening service that comes with instant mobile credit, as well as Smart Insure – guaranteeing insurance cover against any loss or damage to crops, livestock, and equipment.
He said AgroFuture would also offer Smart Tooling Support, consisting of short-term loans to support financing of smart tools such as agriculture-focused drones, soil testing kits, drip irrigation control systems and GPS technology. It will also offer Agric Advisory Services, such as corporate finance solutions for the agriculture sector, capital-raising, mergers and acquisitions, valuations and due diligence services.
In addition, Mr. Mashavave said AgroFuture would offer to finance the Re-Imagine Rural initiative which seeks to address the financial needs of rural and marginalised agri-based communities across the country.