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!Naruseb ponders giving Agribank right to manage N$1.4 billion project

by Kelvin Chiringa

Agriculture minister, Alpheus !Naruseb, is weighing the options of extending the right to manage the ministry’s Namibia Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project (NAMSIP) to Agribank following a public request by the bank’s chief executive officer, Sakaria Nghikembua.

The programme’s funding comes from a loan that has been offered by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and carries with it a component of assistance from the ministry of agriculture which is in kind to the tune of N$400 million.

Through NAMSIP the ministry intends to improve household food security and nutrition, job creation, household incomes and lives of rural people through increased agricultural production and productivity, in line with Namibia’s Fifth National Development Plan (NDP_5: 2017/2018-2021/2022), Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP: 2016/2017-2019/2020) and Growth at Home Strategy for Industrialization.

The growth at home strategy identifies agriculture as a priority area with the potential to contribute to economic development, social transformation, environmental sustainability and good governance. 

The proposed project’s emphasis is on providing support towards agricultural mechanisation and certified seed systems improvement as well as enhancing capacity of MAWF and related institutions, farmers and farmer cooperatives.

If a decision is made, the bank could potentially see itself benefiting from the slice of the cake given that it will be earning a management fee, the basis of which, as Sakaria said, “is negotiable.”

A memorandum of understating between the agriculture ministry and Agribank will have to be entered into and !Naruseb said, “I think that’s something that we can possibly look at.”

“I know that there is a steering committee to be established under the auspices of the ministry of finance that (will) have the task of monitoring the progress within the project.”

“But we need to internalise it and we can probably take it up at the levels that we find most suitable. Given the already existing levels of cooperation notably the cooperatives and the way you have been helping us to administer the same I don’t foresee any big issues in us looking into what you are proposing,” said the minister.

Nghikembua has proposed that the bank could manage part or all of the mechanisation funds and that a “ring-fenced fund can be established for this purpose”.

Said the CEO, “The bank functions to involve: Assessment of applicants, disbursements of approved amounts to successful applicants, iinvestment of funds at best rates in risk-free assets (money markets), collection of repayments on loans and re-investing. Regular reporting to MAWF on key metric (which are): Total disbursements, product types and breakdown, regional and gender spread, (and/or) any other.”