Manawatu shows how rural banking works

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 14:56 31/01/2014
Farm tour
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

HOW WE DO IT: A Palmerston North farm hosts a group of international bank managers for a short course in rural banking. Farmer Brad Stafford demonstrates rounding up the sheep.

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New Zealand is an agri-commerce powerhouse in the eyes of our Asia-Pacific neighbours, with Manawatu proving to be the best example.

An international delegation got the inside scoop on New Zealand's agricultural sector this week, touring farms, banks and questioning industry experts in Palmerston North.

As part of a Massey University pilot programme, bank managers and policy makers from the Philippines, India and Bangladesh travelled to New Zealand for first-hand experience of financing in the farming sector.

The trip is part of a programme, led by Massey's Centre for Professional and Continuing Education (Pace) and the Centre for Training and Research for Agricultural Banking (Centrab). Nearly 60 institutions are involved, including top central and commercial banks, as well as government departments, in more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

The pilot is a short course in rural banking and finance aimed at New Zealand's international partners.

Pace programme co-ordinator for international study tours Christina Baldarelli said that as well as the formal side of things, the international visitors chatted with Manawatu farmers about their perspectives of how agricultural lending policies allowed Kiwi farmers to live off the land and make profit. "It's really a showing of best practices for some countries who might not have such forward mobility as we do."

Palmerston North was the perfect place to do this, with New Zealand agri-commerce in action in provincial Manawatu, she said.

"It's a rural community that provides a lot of rural banking and funding resources to the farming community."

Land Bank of the Philippines president Gilda Pico, who is the head of the country's biggest government bank, took part in the pilot. Land Bank financed many agricultural loans and was one of the country's biggest lenders to small farmers, Ms Pico said.

"We joined this programme because we want to see the best practices in New Zealand as far as rural banking is concerned and maybe we can adopt some of the practices in our country."

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- Manawatu Standard

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