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3 banks to extend credit facilities to farmers





THE agriculture commodities exchange - the Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange (ZMX) - to be introduced soon, has courted three banks willing to extend credit to farmers as more progress is made towards the launch of the exchange.

Discussions are currently underway with a fourth bank that is also interested in bankrolling farmers.

The banks could not be disclosed as discussions are still ongoing. This comes as the ZMX paces up in time for its launch scheduled for March.

A progress update on the exchange also shows that one bank has been taken on-board to provide clearing and settlement services while discussions with four other banks are at various stages of completion.

Additionally, one custodian has been on-boarded with the second one in the final stages of the on-boarding process.

The ZMX initiative is a partnership between the Government and the private sector led by Financial and Securities Exchange Limited (Finsec), TSL Limited and CBZ Holdings.

Finsec are undertaking the technical implementation work in setting up the Commodities Exchange.

The technology used is developed and maintained by Escrow Systems, a company within the Escrow Group, which is Finsec's parent company.

Indications are that warehouse operators, custodial and settlement bank services providers have been trained on their respective roles and responsibilities in ensuring seamless end-to-end automated processes in the issuance, listing, trading and settlement of warehouse receipts.

"Three banks have indicated willingness to extend credit facilities to farmers on the strength of warehouse receipts," said Finsec general manager Garikayi Munema.

"The entire system on which the commodities exchange shall ride has been developed and tested.

"All stakeholders in the value from warehouses to final settlement at the bank have been connected and system tested and approved," he said.

It is also understood the department of plant quarantine is in the process of approving identified TSL Limited and GMB warehouses.

In line with this, interviews for warehouse persons have been done, physical inspections of TSL warehouses finished and awaiting physical inspection of GMB warehouses is the only outstanding issue.

The exchange will be anchored on the warehouse receipt system (WRS), which helps in ensuring an efficient market with a fair price discovery system that gives access to both local and international commodity buyers and better margins for the farmers.

It provides an organised market of authorised formal players across the agricultural commodities value chain as well as encourage formalisation of small-scale farmers, which will ensure the sustainability of the farming activities, increase in access to credit facilities through collateralisation of agricultural produce and enhance the farmers' contribution to employment creation, environmental conservation and economic development.

Mr Munema said the ZMX will soon embark on a nationwide publicity programme to promote the use of WRS and the commodities exchange.

"To date, awareness and sensitisation campaigns have been done around the 10 provinces. In attendance were farmers, farmer representatives, Ministry of Agriculture, GMB and Agritex personnel. The programme was positively received," he said.

Farmers who do not have storage facilities have been short-changed as they have been forced to release their produce to buyers and the new system will be solution to this problem for players along the value chain.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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