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Agribank and Development Bank sign memorandum of understanding

The Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) and the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate and co-finance controlled environment agriculture activities in Namibia. The signing took place on 01 December 2022, in Windhoek.

The MoU recognises the joint interests of the two banks in promoting agriculture as a route to economic activity and food security. Agribank promotes agriculture through financing the entire agriculture value chain and related activities. DBN provides finance for agricultural infrastructure, manufacturing of agricultural inputs and provision of agricultural services, as well as enterprises that process agricultural produce and manufacture food.

Controlled environment agriculture finance envisages provision of land and facilities that enable consistent productivity with infrastructure that reduces the impact of drought and variable weather. This may include hydroponics, vegetable tunnels and green schemes. It also encompasses aquaculture.

In terms of the MoU, the banks will also identify parallel opportunities of mutual interest. For instance, if DBN receives a request for direct financing for agriculture it will refer the request to Agribank. Agribank may similarly refer requests for financing for agri-processing facilities to DBN. Both banks may collaborate on finance for controlled environment agriculture.

At the signing ceremony, Agribank’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Raphael Karuaihe, said collaboration with other institutions to pool financing resources speaks directly to the Bank’s strategic initiative of targeting high impact projects to transform our economy and the agriculture sector, in particular.

DBN CEO Martin Inkumbi, stated that DBN has identified controlled environment agriculture to focus on, as this industry inherently mitigates many of the risks usually associated with agriculture, and with limited background in agriculture, it greatly reduces the risk DBN has to mitigate and manage in the agricultural space.

The Memorandum of Understanding is valid for two years from the date of signature, with the option for renewal at the end of the term.

AGRIBANK TO STOP ACCEPTING CASH PAYMENTS AS OF 1ST OF DECEMBER 2022

The Agricultural Bank of Namibia hereby informs its clients, prospective clients, and all stakeholders that, as from the 1st of December 2022, Agribank will no longer accept cash payments. The Bank will only accept payment through electronic transfer, deposits at commercial banks and point of sale (POS) at the branches. This decision to discontinue cash payments at Agribank branches is in line with the Bank’s strategy to effectively manage the security risk facing the Bank’s employees that are responsible for receiving and handling cash payments across all eight branches of the Bank.
Additionally, this changeis an effort by Agribank to further contribute to the combating of money laundering in the country. Money laundering is regulated in terms of the Financial Intelligence Act, with specific reference to Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements. This requires stringent verification of the source of cash funds and reporting thereon.
Agribank is a non-deposit taking financial institution which does not provide banking services like commercial banks. Agribank’s business is solely based on advancing loans to individuals, business entities, or financial intermediaries for the promotion and development of agriculture and related activities in the country. This implies that the Bank has limited cash handling facilities and does not charge clients for cash deposits. At the same time, the Bank continues to bear the costs when depositing cash in its own bank accounts at commercial banks.
With reference to Agribank services, one of the requirements when accessing Agribank loan products, is that an applicant is required to have a bank account with any commercial bank. Prospective clients who do not have bank accounts are required to open a bank account as a condition to access Agribank loan facilities. As such, the decision to not accept cash payments will not affect the ability of clients to make payments through electronic bank transfer and deposits through commercial banks.
Clients are therefore advised to obtain Agribank bank account details from their monthly account statements at Agribank offices and make payments through commercial banks. Clients are advised to indicate their loan account numbers as a reference, when making loan payments, to ensure timeous allocation to their accounts. Alternatively, clients are also encouraged to sign up for debit order deduction services with the Agribank for once-off payments or re-current monthly payments.
Lastly, Agribank would like to encourage clients to continue honouring their loan obligations, by ensuring timely payment of their loan instalments. This will enable the Bank to continue delivering on its mandate of promoting and developing the agriculture sector, to ensure national food security, promote sustainable employment, and improve overall economic growth.
Issued by:
Fillemon Nangonya
Public Relations Officer
For inquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communications Division
Tel.: 061 2074111 Email: info@agribank.com.na

AGRIBANK INAUGURATES REVAMPED OTJIWARONGO OFFICE

On Friday, 14 October 2022, the Agricultural Bank of Namibia inaugurated its revamped Otjiwarongo office, a development that is meant to enhance customer in-branch experience and brand visibility, in line with the Bank’s strategic plan. Otjozondjupa region lies at the centre of a highly potential agricultural area of the country, which flourishes in both livestock and crop farming. As a key player in financing the transformation, and expansion of agriculture in the country, Agribank has two offices in the Otjozondjupa region, with another office in Grootfontein, in recognition of the business potential of the region in the agricultural space.
The keynote speaker at the inauguration, Hon. James Uerikua, Governor of the Otjozondjupa region, applauded Agribank for its investment and commitment in the region, stating that "the overhaul of this office is a welcome expression of the trust and confidence that Agribank has in the economic potential of this town and the entire Otjozondjupa region." As such, the Governor called on Agribank as a public institution, to continue with its strategic role in contributing to food security, employment creation, and land reform efforts of the government.

On her part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Agribank’s Board of Directors, Dagmar Honsbein, reiterated the Bank’s position of expanding its footprints, stating that "as a development finance institution, we have laid a solid foundation to ensure that the Bank’s impact is felt across the length and breadth of our beautiful country, Namibia. We will continue to offer innovative financial solutions to both communal and commercial farmers, from production to value-addition." Furthermore, Agribank’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Raphael Karuaihe, told the audience at the event that "over the past five years, Agribank has embarked on a journey, not only to transform the institution to become the pinnacle of corporate governance and service delivery efficiencies, but also to ensure that it plays a meaningful role in catalysing the transformation and growth of the agricultural sector, through the adoption of a clear strategic plan."

Agribank’s five-year strategic plan focuses on preserving the business in a difficult operating environment, securing sustainable sources of affordable loan book funding, new business growth, maintaining sustainable collections trajectory, maintaining prudent expense management; and robustly managing provisions for bad debt. Moreover, the Bank intends to diversify its loan book for climate resilience and inclusivity, as well as embed automation and operational efficiencies within the Bank to sustain a high-performance environment and enhance brand reputation, while also balancing the mandate for sustainability and shareholder/policymaker/client expectations.

In terms of the loan book statistics for the Otjozondjupa region, the region serves over 2,700 clients on the loan book of Agribank, of which the majority are from Otjiwarongo and surrounding areas. Otjozondjupa’s loan book stands at over N$1.1 billion. Agribank Otjiwarongo office has financed over N$1.8 million to full-time communal farmers, without collateral, through the Emerging Retail Financing Product (ERFP). The office also paid over N$10.7 million to 13 beneficiaries of the newly introduced Women and Youth Loan scheme. As may be commonly known, the top three loan products in the region that the Bank financed are land for beginners, full-time affirmative action loans, and livestock loans.

Agribank’s loans can be utilized for purchasing farmland, production inputs, livestock, farming infrastructure, vehicles and equipment, biomass management, aquaculture, poultry, piggery, post-settlement support, as well as value addition through agro-processing. The Bank also provides training and mentorship services to farmers through the Agri-Advisory Services Division.

Agribank Committed to Supporting Local Agricultural Exhibitions

As a strategic player in the agriculture sector, Agribank continuously supports the agricultural sectorin the country as part of its mandate to promote growth and development of the sector. Agribank’s support is not limited to its core mandate of financing agriculture and agriculture related businesses, but also takes interest in socio-economic issues that do not necessarily have impact on financial performance of the Bank. In this regard, Agribank provides sponsorship towards support of local agriculture shows and exhibition events country wide.

Agribank strongly believes that support to such events does not only promote brand visibility, generate sales leads but it also serves as a platform for farmers and all stakeholders across the value chain to share information experience to improve productivity and sustainability of the agriculture sector. The shows and fairs provide an opportunity for farmers to market their produce and generate income and for other players across the value chain to showcase inputs, services, technologies and innovation necessary for the growth and development of the sector and the economy at large.

Agribank therefore recognizes these opportunities, and thus has taken a deliberate decision to support local agricultural shows and exhibition events through its corporate social responsibility (CSR). Through this avenue, the Bank is ploughing back to the community while also stimulating business activities in the agriculture industry and the country at large.

For the past financial years 2019/2020, 2020/2021, and 2021/2022, the Bank spent an amount of N$1.066million towards its corporate social responsibility. The CSR investments focused mainly on supporting livestock auctions, horticulture production, agro-processing, and farmers’ support services. The social responsibility support was not only provided to agricultural shows and exhibitions, but a substantial amount also went into agricultural projects and initiatives such as community and school gardens, aimed at uplifting sustainable community food security programmes and entrepreneurial capabilities. In addition, industry partners such as farmers' unions, consortiums, congresses, and cooperatives also formed part of the beneficiaries of the corporate social responsibility fund of the Agribank.

The Bank is always inundated with requests for support and sponsorship from various institutions and groups. However, considering the difficulties within the business environment that the Bank operates in, the process of allocating funds ensures an equitable distribution of resources across all the 14 regions of the country. The Bank also proactively looks for strategic agriculture events and projects for possible support and sponsorship, in line with its policy and procedures.

Issued by:
Fillemon Nangonya
Public Relations Officer
For inquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communications Division
Tel.: 061 2074355 Email: info@agribank.com.na

Agribank’s Biomass Value Chain Financing Scheme now Available

Namibia’s premier agricultural lender, Agribank, is delighted to inform the public that the recently launched biomass value chain financing scheme, is now available to the public. This special scheme is aimed at meeting the strategic objective of loan book diversification coupled with the Banks mission to continuously offer innovative agricultural financing solutions.

The Biomass industry has the potential to improve the streamflow of underground water, refine rangeland productively, create sustainable employment and serve as an opportunity for farmers to diversification revenue streams. In addition, the industry will promote climate smart agricultural practices.

Under the Biomass value chain financing scheme, an applicant (legal entity or individual) 1) can be the owner of the farm or leasing a farm from which he/she can harvest biomass to produce charcoal. 2) can be a processor who buy in charcoal to process and pack for the end market (i.e retail shops/ restaurants or export/import companies for charcoal. Both applicants are required to have a permit from the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Forestry, in order to harvest the biomass for charcoal.

For charcoal producers, the facility offers loans for working capital (including food rations for the employees), tractors/trailers, storage sheds, de-bushing equipment, workers housing including clean water & sanitation. As for charcoal processors, financing of working capital, general equipment and vehicles, maintenance workshop, office to operate from, charcoal processing plant, warehouse and equipment is offered.

For more information, and to apply for the biomass financing scheme, applicants, can visit any of the Agribank’s offices countrywide, or the Bank’s website (www.agribank.com.na) or the Biomass Finance Scheme Brochure.

The Bank will continue to play a meaningful role in ensuring that both communal and commercial farmers have affordable access to financing, to take the agricultural sector to the next level.

Issued by:
Fillemon Nangonya
Public Relations Officer
For inquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communications Division
Tel.: 061 2074355 Email: info@agribank.com.na

Agribank Consult Omaheke Agriculture Role Players

Namibia’s premier agricultural lender, Agribank, spearheaded a stakeholder engagement event in Gobabis, Omaheke region, bringing together all agriculture role players in the region, to consult and engage on how best to serve farmers in the cattle country. The event took place on Wednesday, 19 January 2022.

Farmers’ union representatives formed part of the engagement, and presented their challenges, while also proposing solutions. Among others, farmers indicated that due to drought, farmers are now disintegrated as each farmer is now focused on the survival of his/her farm, resulting in less peer-to-peer interactions. As such, farmers are proposing for Agribank to champion events for farmers to come together, and share information on addressing various challenges they face.

It was further proposed for Agribank to provide certificate of attendance and/or accreditation to farmers, after attending farming trainings facilitated by Agribank. According to farmers, this will help when applying for resettlement farms at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.

Farmers also encouraged synergies between all key stakeholder in the region, to ensure that bottlenecks in the process of serving farmers are addressed from all angles. During the engagement, stakeholders presented their respective roles in the process of developing and promoting agriculture in the country. Additionally, Agribank loan application processes and requirements also featured.

On behalf of Agribank, Mr. Regan Mwazi, Executive Manager Marketing and Customer Strategy responded to some of the issues raised and praised the institutions for attending and providing inputs. “It is only through stakeholder engagements such as this one where local solution to local challenges can be provided and opportunities identified for exploitation to the benefit of the farming industry,” he stated. Mr. Mwazi also urged farmers to be organised in order to be heard and take seriously the information provided to them through various platforms in order to improve their respective farming techniques.

Commenting on the engaged, Emilie Abraham, Manager: Horticulture Market Development, Namibia Agronomic Board, expressed her satisfaction with the meeting, noting that the event helped in providing context on the responsibilities of individual stakeholders, while also clarifying such functions in the chain of helping farmers, and growing the sector.

Recently, Agribank’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Dr Raphael Karuaihe announced that stakeholder engagements will be at the core of his 100 days in office. As such, more events of similar nature will be conducted at the auspices of Agribank.

The following institutions were represented: Omaheke Regional Council, Farmers Unions and Associations, Namibia Agronomic Board, Meat Board of Namibia, NAMPOL Stock Theft Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Witvlei Village Council, and the Namibia Biomass Industry Group.



Mr. Regan Mwazi (in blue), Executive Manager Marketing and Customer representing Agribank during the engagements.


Issued by:
Fillemon Nangonya
Public Relations Officer
For inquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communications Division
Tel.: 061 2074111 Email: info@agribank.com.na

Dr Karuaihe Reveals His 100 Days Plan as Agribank CEO

Agribank’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Dr Raphael Karuaihe, revealed his first 100 days plan at the helm of the Bank. Dr Karuaihe made the revelation during his first staff address on Friday, 14 January 2022.
Before detailing his plan, Dr Karuaihe noted that “I am cognisant of the harsh realities in our country, the extreme drought, flood and other calamities hurting farmers, who are our clients, and therefore necessitating urgent and timely customer service.”

For this reason, Dr Karuaihe has prioritised stakeholder engagements to be key during his first 100 days, as he wants to listen to farmers, clients, the shareholder, and other key stakeholders to understand their perspectives and expectations. “This will assist me in developing the roadmap towards the fulfillment of the institutional mandate,” he said.
Improvement of operational efficiencies is another area of focus, during the period. This is inclusive of cost containment measures, and enhancement of customer service at the Bank, ensuring that clients are served with excellence, since this has an impact on Agribank as a brand. Dr Karuaihe further singled out the plan of building on a good business model that is already established at the Bank, as another action item during his first 100 days in office. On this area, he stated that, “I must say, I found a very well-run institution, and there is no need for a crisis management, I will however strive to improve on what I found.”

The CEO also aims to promote research and development in the Bank, to ensure that data on the Bank’s impact in the country “is well analysed and dissected for efficient planning and execution purposes,” he stated. Addressing key person’s risk and staff retention are also other areas to occupy his time during the period, with the eye of ensuring business continuity.

Lastly, according to Dr Karuaihe at the end of his 100 days period in office, he will present a road map to the Board of the Bank. This will detail his plan and vision for the Bank, during his tenure as CEO.

Issued by:

Fillemon Nangonya
Public Relations Officer
For inquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communications Division
Tel.: 061 2074111 Email: info@agribank.com.na

Dr Raphael Karuaihe Assumes Duties as Chief Executive Officer of Agribank

Agribank takes pleasure to announce that Dr Raphael Karuaihe has officially commenced duty as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Agricultural Bank of Namibia, 10 January 2022. This follows his appointment by the Board of the Bank, in October 2021.

Prior to his appointment, Dr Karuaihe worked as the Head of Commodities at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in South Africa; since 2012. At the JSE, he was responsible for overseeing agricultural and non-agricultural commodities within the Capital Markets Division.

Dr Karuaihe is no stranger to financial services. Before joining the JSE, he spent many years in the financial service industry where he had advised institutional clients on investments and risk management.

Dr Karuaihe brings along a wealth of unique experience and knowledge to the chief executive position. The Board and staff of the Bank place considerable trust in him to carefully navigate the agricultural bank during the currently trying times. The Bank needs all hands on deck to mitigate challenges and risks to the agri-business environment, such as the protracted drought and the impact of Covid-19 outbreak on the agricultural sector.

Dr Karuaihe’s term coincides with the new 5-year strategic plan of the Bank, running 2022-2026, with a special focus on business preservation and growth, financial sustainability, product, and technological innovation. This is to enable the Bank, to continue delivering on its mandate of providing affordable and innovative agriculture financing solutions.

Among other qualifications, Dr Karuaihe holds a doctorate in Agricultural Economics from the Washington State University, USA, and a Master of Business Administration in Banking and Investment Management from the Maastricht School of Management, in the Netherlands.

The Board of Directors and staff welcome and wish Dr Karuaihe well in his new role. We assure him of our impartial support in the execution of his executive responsibilities. We are certain that he will take the Bank to the next trajectory.



In the picture from left to right: Dr Michael Humavindu, Board Member; Dr Raphael Karuaihe, Agribank CEO; Ms. Dagmar Honsbein, Board Vice Chairperson; and Mr. Alfred Sikopo, Board Member.

Issued by:
Dagmar Honsbein
Board Vice Chairperson
For inquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communications Division
Tel.: 061 2074111 Email: info@agribank.com.na


AGRIBANK APPOINTS NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

The Board of the Agricultural Bank of Namibia is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Raphael Karuaihe as the incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Agribank, with effect from 10 January 2022.

Dr Karuaihe is currently the Head of Commodities at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in South Africa. He has been with the JSE since 2012, where he oversees agricultural and non-agricultural commodities within the Capital Markets Division. Prior to that, Dr Karuaihe spent many years in the financial services industry where he had advised institutional clients on retirement planning, investments and risk management. He holds a doctorate in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University, USA.

The Board and staff look forward to welcoming Dr Karuaihe to our team that is destined to take Agribank to greater heights.

Dr Raphael Karuaihe – Incoming Agribank CEO

Issued by:
Dagmar Honsbein
Board Vice Chairperson
For enquiries, kindly contact the Marketing and Communication Division
Tel.: 061 2074308/10Fax: 061 2074206
Email: info@agribank.com.na

An overview on farming

Farming is an endeavor that allows a person to be involved in the growing of crops or keeping of domestic animals for the purpose of producing food and raw materials. Over the course of time, farming has rapidly evolved to incorporate technological and scientific advancements to make it a sustainable undertaking that utilizes resources such as land and water efficiently. These advancements have enabled the achievement of food security and significant revenues in many developed economies.

However, aspiring farmers need to keep key considerations in mind when deciding to become a farmer.

Before you embark on your farming venture there are critical questions that one must be able to answer in order to make the farming journey a success. The first and most important question is Why do you want to farm? This question will easily help an aspiring farmer to have a purpose or objective as to why he/she wants to farm.

This question has to be followed by asking What do you want to produce? This question helps a farmer understand that from the wide range of products available, he/she can focus on producing one or two with determination. For example, if one wants to be a livestock or crop farmer, they must decide to either focus on the production of cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, pigs, or crops. If one opts to produce livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats), aspiring farmers should identify their product of choice (breeding stock, weaners, oxen, or steers) to produce from their cattle farming venture. Aspiring crop farmers on the other hand may decide to focus on growing agronomy crops such as maize, pearl millet, wheat, or sorghum for grain production or to produce vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbages, potatoes, etc.

The third question is Whom are you producing for? This question helps you identify your potential target market which will be the immediate consumers of your product. Furthermore, this helps you to properly plan your production to meet sufficient quantities demanded by your target market.

The fourth question is What are your expectations? This question addresses the farmer ‘s envisaged output from the farming operations in the form of revenue and profit. Farmers are also encouraged to keep records that they can use to assess their progress, costs, and incomes. This will enable any farmer to answer this critical last question, is farming a business? Once you decide to embark on a farming journey, it should always be noted that once money is invested, one should anticipate a return on investment, and this makes farming a business.

Starting a farm is a complicated endeavor because it encompasses a myriad of aspects. In no particular order, farmers must consider business planning, finding land, securing financing, marketing, production selection, production knowledge, securing equipment, developing or securing infrastructure, and their vision for their farm. Moreover, an aspiring farmer should be cognizant of their knowledge and experience levels. In the final analysis, addressing these questions may ease the planning process and enable farmers to set up sustainable and profitable farming businesses.

Author: Hanks Saisai, Technical Advisor: Crops & Poultry (Agribank’s Agri Advisory Services Division)

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