Zimbabwe: Just in – Gvt, Banks to Work On 99-Year Leases

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Government is ready to work with the banking sector to fine-tune 99-year land leases to help make them bankable and so boost productivity, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.

On Friday he noted that although Government had issued the leases to most farmers, most banks were still skeptical.

The minister, who was on a familiarisation tour of the Beitbridge Border Post, said agriculture was a major economic driver and farmers must be capacitated.

He said Government was fine-tuning the command agriculture element, which should be implemented from a commercial perspective. “I am aware of the need to give farmers bankable land so that they may operate as businessmen. “However, that doesn’t necessarily fall under my ministry,” said Prof Ncube.

“First of all, if you look at the Command Agriculture initiative, you will note that we have gone through stages, all designed to bolster the process for upgrading productivity within the agriculture sector.

“From last year, Government has been able to crowd in the banking sector as a lender to the agriculture sector by providing banks with guarantees under the commercial command agriculture initiative.

“This is what has also happened with this year’s command winter wheat programme and the same thing will happen during the summer cropping.

He continued; “We have the 99-year leases and these give some form of title to the holders of that land. “But I am also aware that banks have not welcomed these as warmly like in other countries”.

Prof Ncube said the Government was ready to fine-tune the leases to suit the needs of the farmers and the banking sector to improve the way of doing business.

He said Zimbabwe was going through a transition and banks will soon be able to accept the leases.

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