07 Jul 2013 08:10
WINDHOEK, 07 JUL (NAMPA) - The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa has encouraged cooperatives to make use of the loan guarantee funds created by Government to engage in income-generating activities.
The ministry has created two loan guarantee funds to enable cooperatives without collateral to access loans from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) in the case of agricultural cooperatives; and from Bank Windhoek in the case of non-agricultural cooperatives.
In a speech read on his behalf by the chairperson of the Cooperative Advisory Board, Ollof Munjanu at an International Cooperative Day event in the capital on Saturday, Mutorwa encouraged cooperatives which have not yet applied to the funds to make use of the opportunity in order to empower their members to participate fully in different economic activities, and make their contribution to the development of the country?s economy.
There are currently 102 registered cooperatives in Namibia, with a total membership of approximately 28 000 members.
Mutorwa indicated that the loan guarantee fund for agricultural cooperatives has proved to be a success as the initial amount of N.dollars 19 million which was availed to the fund had been fully utilised by the year 2011.
This, he said, prompted the ministry to avail an additional N.dollars 28 million in 2012 and N.dollars 20 million in 2013 respectively for the same purpose.
About 10 cooperatives with a total membership of 450 have so far benefitted from the scheme to the tune of N.dollars 5,3 million.
He however noted that despite the success achieved so far, cooperative development activities in Namibia still have a long way to go due the challenges faced by the sector.
Some of the challenges are that the cooperative concept is not yet well understood, and that business management capacity is lacking amongst local cooperatives.
He also noted that there is lack of proper networking among stakeholders and absence of a national apex body to advocate and lobby for cooperatives interests.
Namibia, as a member of the United Nations (UN) family, observed International Cooperative Day with the rest of the world under the theme ?Co-operative enterprise remains strong in time of crisis? on Saturday. The day is observed on the first Saturday of July every year.
The theme was aimed at emphasising the uniqueness of the cooperative business model, taking into consideration the resilience of cooperatives during times of economic instability compared to other forms of business that have been troubled by current global economic hardships, Mutorwa said.
Currently in Namibia there are cooperatives that are involved in various economic sectors covering sewing and tailoring, livestock marketing, savings and credit, small-scale mining, the marketing of semi-precious stones, arts and crafts, mahangu marketing, seed multiplication, the provision of agricultural input such as seeds, ploughing services and first level oil processing from indigenous fruits as marula, kernels and melon seeds.