Land Bank helps create 15 000 jobs in agricultural sector
THE LAND and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa created 15 000 jobs in the agricultural sector in the year to March by providing finance for emerging farmers, the state-owned lender said yesterday.
The bank, also reported a 10 percent rise in net interest income to R1.3 billion for the year ended in March, up from R1.1bn for the same period last year, while net profit rose 13percent to R347m.
The strong performance came against subdued conditions in the agricultural industry, which included the worst drought in a century and a contracting economy marred by volatile exchange rates affecting commodity prices.
Land Bank chief executive Petrus Nchocho said it made available R2bn for the year to end March through its developmental sector, which has black emerging farmers as its main beneficiaries.
“We are happy 15 000 jobs in the agricultural sector were created through our involvement. However, overall we had set aside an R4.8bn loan disbursement for the period and R2bn went to emerging farmers,” Nchocho said.
Nchocho said the bank grew its gross loan book by 11 percent to R43.3bn, up from R39bn a year before, while managing to reduce overall costs and improving its capital, liquidity and funding positions.
The bank achieved some notable highlights during the year, including supporting farmers impacted by the drought with at least R100m under its Drought Relief Programme, which is administered in conjunction with the Industrial Development Corporation.
The bank also increased support to female farmers, with 262 loans of R161m now on its books.
This year the bank concluded two major funding transactions – a R1.3bn agricultural development facility with the World Bank and the $300m (R4bn) commercial facility supported by Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
The bank also obtained an unqualified audit opinion for the financial year in question, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to good governance and sound banking principles.
Nchocho said the funding represented a vote of confidence in the work being undertaken to grow the agricultural sector.
He added that the money came at the right time with the sector buckling under drought, and said the sector contracted 6 percent in 2015 and 7 percent last year.
“However, the sector is recovering with the rain in the second and third quarter last year. Crop farmers increased the area planted by 38 percent as a result,” Nchocho said.
Chief executive Petrus Nchocho says the Land Bank made R2bn available for the year to March through its develomental sector.