Agribank leads in agricultural transformation and inclusivity
By Regan Mwazi
Agribank Executive Manager: Marketing and Customer Strategy Department.
In 2017, the Agricultural Bank of Namibia established the Agri Advisory Services Division (AASD) with the Marketing and Customer Strategy Department of the Bank. The main objective is for the Bank to provide services of continuously transferring knowledge and skills with everlasting enhancements to farm productivity of farmers countrywide.
To date, N$12.8 million investment was made for the operationalisation of the AASD, benefiting 36 013 Agri-entrepreneurs of which 70% are small-scale farmers based in communal and rural areas of the country, while 120 clients of the Bank, are being mentored.
As a result of this intervention, coupled with robust stakeholder engagements especially for the past two financial years, poultry loans increased by 188% to N$1.99 million ending February 2022 from N$694 551 in the Financial Year 2020/21.
Furthermore, loans advanced to youth, only clients below the age of 35, increased by 75% to N$19 million year-to-date, with 44 beneficiaries, from N$10.9 million with 27 beneficiaries in the Financial Year 2020/21 mostly for livestock production.
Furthermore, mentorship has had positive effects on reduction in livestock mortality rates for mentees, as clients of the Bank. In this regard, mortality amongst cattle reduced significantly from 23% in the Financial Year 2019/20 to 6% in the Financial Year 2020/21. In addition, cattle of taking rates have increased over the mentorship period from 14% in the Financial Year 2018/19 to 34% in the Financial year 2020/21.
This signifies an increase in the production of marketable animals and the adoption of business principles in farming to create wealth. AASD capacity development interventions use different methodologies towards service delivery countrywide which includes among others, face-to-face, 2-day short training courses, lectures, practical sessions, excursions, farmers information days, published articles, radio broadcasts, as well as social media learning packages hosted via several social media platforms.
The short training courses have provided the opportunity for agri-entrepreneurs to acquire practical knowledge and skills in various farming aspects. During the Financial Year 2021/22, short training courses have focused on building capacity in diversified farming enterprises such as poultry, crop, horticulture, and hydroponic production amongst others. This has greatly contributed to building Namibian farmers’ resilience to climatic changes and shocks.
The women and youth category formed 60% of the participation rate in the training courses conducted thus far. All these efforts are geared towards preparing the farmers to plan for and survive adverse climate conditions that can compromise their ability to actively participate in the meat, horticulture and agronomy value chains.
Consequently, AASD’s key function is that of transferring skills and knowledge as well as inspiring positive attitudes in farmers towards agribusiness to improve productivity and promote business relationships between clients, potential clients and the Bank, with the long term objective of transforming agricultural ventures into viable sustainable business enterprises.
To ensure continuity in free services delivery to farmers, in February 2021 the Bank secured the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to co-finance agri advisory services over two years period with emphasis on women and youth. Through this partnership, AASD has proven to be an ideal vehicle to reach farmers across all backgrounds, complementing the national extension services with the quality training interventions as well as towards the country’s long-term economic objectives, as outlined in Vision 2030, National Development Plans and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
Lastly, the AASD continues to share agricultural knowledge through its series of article publications in local newspapers and online interventions such as the Agri-Learn Podcast, agricultural video training clips, and tips of the week that can be found on Agribank’s social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Donlu Africa and Apple podcasts.
Furthermore, Agribank encourages the public and especially the youth, to tune in to our broadcasts and subscribe to the soon-to-be-launched Agri Advisory Services Learning Channel.