By Business Reporter
AGRIBANK plans to catalyse the transformation of agriculture in Namibia through inclusive lending, with a renewed emphasis on emerging and communal farmers, as well as the shortening of loan processing timelines.
This is according to Agribank Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, who was speaking last Thursday at the bank’s first-ever stakeholder engagement dinner held in Rundu.
Nghikembua further listed value-addition financing, which will support economic growth and employment creation, as a key milestone towards transforming the agricultural sector.
Agribank further plans to enhance agricultural output, through training and mentorship programmes, and had therefore established its own specialised Agri-Advisory Services Division within the bank on 1 April.
During last week’s dinner, Nghikembua shared the bank’s strategy and focus areas with key stakeholders, while receiving feedback.
At the event, Agribank Board Chairperson, Terttu Uyuni, said that at the heart of the bank’s strategy are the key pillars of customer focus, financial sustainability and socio-economic transformation, amongst others.
“We need to understand their (customers’) needs, the challenges they face, as well as the opportunities available to them. Financial sustainability requires us to grow our loan book, manage our expenses prudently and ensure timely loan repayments to the bank,” Uyuni said.
“The board and management have a duty to manage the bank in a sustainable and inclusive manner, so that we can make a wider developmental impact in our country.”
According to Uyuni, the socio-economic development pillar of the bank’s strategy asserts the principle that, as a national development financing institution, Agribank needs to be inclusive.
“It is critical that we devise appropriate strategies to reach out to communal farmers, who have previously benefited only in a limited way from our loan products and support services. The recent launch of the no-collateral loan product, for salaried employees, supports this strategic aspiration.”
Uyuni also amplified Nghikembua’s comments about the bank’s catalytic role, in the transformation of the agriculture sector, by providing innovative and affordable financing solutions to Namibians, so that they can produce for the country, as well as earn foreign currency through exports.
“By taking advantage of our agro-processing financing, our citizens will not only be able to add value and grow the economy, but they will also provide jobs, secure livelihoods, eliminate poverty, restore people’s dignity and create prosperity for all Namibians”, she stated.
The Agribank chairperson further noted that for too long, Agribank has focused on funding primary production activities. With government’s emphasis now on value-addition and growth-at-home, the bank has realigned its strategy, to ensure that it also plays its part in the financing of value-addition activities in the agricultural space.
“It is against this background that the board approved the agro-processing loan product, which will add value to basic agricultural produce, create employment and help expand production, in support of economic growth. The bank, therefore, invites clients with bankable ideas to talk to us, so that we can guide them through the necessary processes, to realise their dreams of agricultural value-addition,” Uyuni added
Kavango East Regional Governor, Dr Samuel Mbambo, who was the guest of honour at the Agribank event, pledged his support towards the full implementation of the strategic plan, so that the bank can deliver on its mandate, and ensure a bigger developmental impact in the country.
Dr Mbambo challenged small-scale, as well as commercial producers in his region and beyond, to step up their game and set up factories to manufacture Namibia’s own tomato sauce, and process other produce into value-added products.
“As a country, we are currently importing these most basic products, but if we organise ourselves, and take advantage of this facility by Agribank, we should be able to penetrate this market, and make a dent in our quest for food security and economic diversification,” the governor adde
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