03 Aug 2015 16:10pm
WINDHOEK, 03 AUG (NAMPA) - Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein has called on the incoming Agricultural Bank (Agribank) Board of Directors to develop mitigation strategies and rapid response mechanisms that will help reduce the potential impact of natural calamities in the country.
Speaking at the inauguration of Agribanks new board members on Friday evening, he said the agricultural sector in recent periods has been prone to natural calamities, especially the frequent occurrence of drought and foot-and-mouth disease, which have been a set-back to the growth of the sector.
The new board consists of Terttu Uuyuni (chairperson), Oiva Mahina (deputy chairperson) (both re-elected); Michael Humavindu; Dagmar Honsbein; and Michael Iyambo. The last three directors replaced Mujiwa Mayumbelo, Anna Shiweda, Immanuel Awene.
The natural calamities have serious impacts on the development agenda and the livelihood of the people, especially rural communities, said Schlettwein.
As we have seen, this year we are again facing a third drought-year in a row. It is, therefore, important that the incoming board members develop mitigation strategies and rapid response mechanisms that will help reduce potential impact on the country, he said.
In addition, the minister called on the Agribank board and management to develop loan facilities that would remove collateral and give access to the communal farmers without compromising on the returns to the investment.
He explained that despite the progress that has been made in improving access to finance by farmers, the majority of the communal farmers still cannot access loan products.
This is mainly due to lack of collateral. This reminds us of the harsh realities and consequences of a skewed economy and also of our obligations to create an environment where no one feels left out, said Schlettwein.
He said he is aware of the risks involved in giving loans without collateral, so it is important that Agribank develops loan facilities that would remove this barrier without compromising on the returns to the investment.
We should tap on the best practices to manage business risk, stem moral hazard and contain non-performing loans, he said.