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Newly-resettled farmers reel from AgriBank loans
February 25, 2013 in News
NEWLY-resettled A2 farmers in Mvurwi, Mashonaland Central province are
living on the edge after AgriBank issued final letters of demand urging them
to settle outstanding debts or their properties lodged as collateral would
be auctioned, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
Many A2 farmers have been struggling to access new loans to finance their
production after failing to settle previous debts. The farmers failed to
settle the debts for a variety of reasons, among them failure to receive
payment from the Grain Marketing Board on time or poor harvests.
Two weeks ago, Phillip Kunaka, a resettled farmer, committed suicide at his
Pembi Chase farm over a US$130 000 debt to Agribank.
Sources close to him said Kunaka left a suicide note in which he claimed
Agribank was threatening to auction the house he had lodged as collateral
for failure to settle the debt.
Kunaka had lodged his brother-in-law’s house as collateral and had failed to
settle the debt for the past two seasons leading to the final letter of
Mazowe North MP Cairo Mhandu confirmed the development.
“Kunaka committed suicide over some debt with Agribank,” Mhandu said. “He
left a note that said Agribank was about to auction a house he had lodged as
collateral but unfortunately it belonged to his brother in law.”
Agribank is reeling under bad debts as farmers fail to repay their loans. An
Agribank Mvurwi branch official acknowledged that some farmers were finding
it difficult to repay loans but refused to give further details.
“I am not at liberty to discuss the bank’s loan book. For that information
you can check with our head office,” said the official.
Finance minister Tendai Biti is on record telling parliament that government
is trying to restore land value by giving tradable 99-year leases to new
farmers that can be used as collateral at banks.
However, government is still to complete a comprehensive land audit and
survey of the new farms before it can offer the new 99 year leases.
Lands and Resettlement minister Herbert Murerwa says the survey has been
delayed by a shortage of surveyors in the country.