The Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) has approved and paid out loans worth N$1.3 billion to Namibians that have acquired commercial farming land through its loan schemes since independence to date.
The bank has paid out loans to the tune of N$761 billion for more than 3.3 million hectares of land under the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) and over N$589 million for more than 2.5 million hectares of land to Namibians that applied to be granted loans for commercial farms respectively. This was revealed by Agribank Corporate Communications Officer, Rino Muranda.
According to Muranda, 642 loans were approved under the AALS and 366 loans under the commercial farmer’s loans scheme to date.
“Fifty-six percent of the loans that were approved are from the AALS and the rest of 44% has been approved to farmers interested in commercials farm. The AALS is an apparatus of equitable distribution and proper utilization of land for sustained economic growth,” Muranda said
He added that there is not much of a difference in the requirements for loans to be approved but Namibians are more interested in the AALS than the usual commercial farm loan scheme as it is meant for previously disadvantage groups.
The AALS package primarily targets the emerging farmers and is an important component of the land reform programme, which enables innovative new farmers from the previously disadvantaged communities to acquire farms in commercial areas The Villager understands.
Statistics also indicate that 61 % (196) of loans approved were male, 11 % (382) female and 28% (64) couples.
Part-time farmers may elect to service the interest portion only for the first three years, where after the outstanding amount is redeemed over the remaining 22 years at the appropriate interest rate.
However requirements are that interested Namibians need to have livestock in order to qualify for loans.
The AALS is complimented by the North South Incentive Scheme (NSIS), which is a vehicle for communal farmers to sell off their livestock South of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) and purchase disease free livestock south of the VCF on acquired farms.
“The applicant must have a minimum of 150 large stock or 800 small stock or own productive livestock to at least 35 percent of official carrying capacity of the farm which he or she intends purchasing,” Muranda said.
He added that most farmers are more interested in farms that are in the northern regions compared to the southern and western regions for better livestock grazing and availability of water.
Top three regions were farms have been acquired are the Otjizondjupa, Omaheke and Oshikoto regions with Erongo, Khomas and //Kharas regions at the bottom of the list.
In Otjizondjupa region 187 loans were approved to acquire farms, Omaheke (124) Oshikoto (89), whereas in Erongo (18) Khomas (19) and //Kharas (17).
This seems to be in sharp contrast to the Government’s farm acquisition programme for resettlement purposes where the majority of farms are offered for sale in the Hardap and //Kharas regions, only joined by the Omaheke region.
This would than support the notion that Government is mostly offered farms for resettlement purposes in areas were the grazing is found wanting, while such farms are generally perceived to be offered for sale to the state at highly inflated prices.