South Africa’s Standard Bank (www.standardbank.com) will provide $100 million as credit to up to 750,000 farmers in 4 African countries in the next 3 years, according to an interview given by Clive Tasker, CEO for Africa, to Reuters newsagency. The bank is to offer the credit in Uganda, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania to help boost agricultural production and economic growth. It is a pilot scheme agreed with some institutions and aims to boost export crops.
Reuters quotes Tasker as saying: “This scheme will disburse loans to small-holders of up to $100 million over the next 3 years and will potentially benefit up to 750,000 small-scale farmers.” He said the bank was also planning a broader financing scheme for other farmers in Africa and would consider projects that aimed at raising production of cash crops: “We are committed to financing agriculture across the full scope of the industry.”
Priority will go to growing crops such as cocoa in Ghana and cashew nuts in Mozambique. “We will help farmers with the right seeds, fertilisers, and ask them to have crop insurance to mitigate our risks,” Tasker said. He added the bank would finance farmers’ co-operatives and agro-businesses to boost trade. Increased production of crops would help African economies to grow and lift millions of people out of poverty.
Reuters reports that Africa has vast water resources and arable land but also food shortages, and says analysts partly blame this on mismanagement of funds, poor government policies and lack of support infrastructure for farmers.
Standard Bank said there was increasing global demand for African produced cocoa, coffee, tea and horticultural crops. Reuters says there is also increased investment, including equity funds seeking land deals and South African and other farmers who are investing in other African countries to grow cash crops.