Learning from best practices of rural financing at World Agri Forum

Rabo Development and its five partner banks in Africa gathered last week in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania for the annual three-day World Agri Forum. The main goal of the conference was to discuss development - plus challenges in agri financing in Africa. And the sharing of innovative tools, concepts and solutions.

All African Rabo Development partner banks – Banco Terra (Mozambique), NMB (Tanzania), Zanaco (Zambia), DCFU (Uganda) and BPR (Rwanda) – were represented in the World Agri Forum held on 6- 9 October 2013. The event was organised to provide Rabobank and the partner banks with a platform to promote knowledge exchange and to share best practices, as the challenges experienced by the partner banks are very similar and often concepts and solutions in one country can be replicated in other countries.

The cooperation between RI and the RD partner banks was also further promoted during this event. The presence of representatives of Rabobank (RI Africa, F&A Wholesale, Rabobank India, FARM & Rural Fund) offered the opportunity for business development between RD partner banks and Global F&A customers of RI. In this respect, RI and RD explored opportunities regarding supply chain financing opportunities for the coffee suppliers of ECOM, a leading international coffee trader and the farmer customers of Syngenta, the world’s leading agri input supplier.

For a better business

Hans Bogaard, Head Agribusiness of Rabo Development, explained, this kind of knowledge sharing will lead to a better understanding and, consequently, a better business. We want to achieve a higher knowledge level on agri financing by sharing concepts, lessons learned, promoting innovative solutions and more.”

Hans continued, “Knowledge sharing will enable the banks to be more effective in financing the agricultural sector, and eventually will lead to a higher number of customers in agriculture (including farmers, cooperatives, traders, processors, etc) and lower NPLs. It is exactly the mission of Rabo Development in increasing outreach in agri/rural banking in a sustainable and profitable way.”’

Great opportunity

For Jan de Laat, Regional Manager TCF Emerging Markets, the conference presented an opportunity. He has recently been appointed as Chief Commercial Officer of the new International Desk in Nairobi, Kenya. “The most important aspect to me was to meet all the colleagues in RI and Partner Banks active in the African agricultural sector. In a short time I was able to establish contacts, which will certainly help to further develop RI's business once we 'have landed' in Nairobi.”

Samuel Kulabako, Relationship Manager Agri at DFCU, was also very pleased to be able to attend the event. “It was a great opportunity to learn how other partner banks are handling the Agribusiness sector in their organisations and also in dealing with the challenges associated with small holder farmers in alleviating poverty, such as lack of security and low level of education” he said.

Progress

The World Agri Forum will be continued in the near future. “The World Agri Forum has come a long way since its beginning in 2009”, adds Hans Boogaard. “The level of discussions is much higher, which reflects that our partner banks are really operating at the forefront of agri financing development in East Africa.”