As part of its efforts to promote the agriculture sector in Botswana, Barclays Bank has announced the establishment of its agri-business division and appointment of agric-relationship managers to advice and service clients.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Barclays Head of Business Banking-Corporate, Andre Potgieter said it is evident that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the drivers of the economy as they contribute immensely to employment creation. He added that the bank always strives to provide the right business and relationship banking solutions.
“We always ensure that we understand the market very well so as to offer the right solutions to our clients. Barclays has designed tailor made services to assist different kinds of farmers,” he said.
He added that there are competitive opportunities in the banking sector as there will always be larger businesses seeking to purchase specific goods and services.
“Smaller business can also adapt quickly to provide a lot of services that are needed. We have observed that government spending varies from industry to industry depending on the focus of the budget on that particular year. As a bank we have decided to partner with Sandveldt farmers as a way of supporting the agric sector in Botswana,” said Potgieter.
He said the agriculture sector is faced with different challenges, among them unfavorable and unpredictable weather conditions. He further said the adverse weather conditions have also negatively impacted the beef industry, which poses a challenge for Barclays to understand the challenges in order to engage clients accordingly.
“Price fluctuations are always a challenge in agriculture and farmers experience increasing input costs while the selling price does not increase at the same rate,” said Potgieter.
He said Barclays always strives to listen to farmers and make appropriate plans to ensure efficiency and manage costs to ensure that margins are managed appropriately.
“We welcome competition and always ensure that we offer clients the right solutions. We are cognizant of the fact that there are different risk appetites at different levels,” he said.
“As Barclays, our projections indicate that 24 percent of our growth will come from the agric sector.”
However, Potgieter said it would be difficult to confirm the number of clients that Barclays has attracted from the agriculture sector as that is dependent on the solution offered and the size of the specific deal.
“However, there is appetite for this market and agriculture will generate growth for next two to three years,” said Potgieter.
For his part, Barclays Regional Manager-Enterprise Banking, Kenneth Makubate said Botswana’s horticultural produce is under performing and under producing as there is too much dependency on imports.
“Our focus is to also make sure that the horticulture sub-sector is vibrant and profitable for commercial farmers. However, the beef sector is the main key area in agriculture and we encourage farmers to invest on a higher scale and take advantage of the solutions that we offer,” he said.