Windhoek — Six hundred and one resettled farmers have so far benefited from a post-settlement support fund set up in 2009 as part of land reform attempts by the Ministry of Land Reform. A total of N$74.048 million was disbursed to the 601 resettled farmers since the establishment of the fund in July 2017.
From July 1 to 31, five resettled farmers received funding to the value of N$581,768.
These statistics came to light after Apius Auchab, a UDF Member of Parliament in the National Assembly asked the Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma to explain how the N$30 million disbursed each year between 2014 and 2015 from the post-resettlement support fund has been managed.
Nujoma said the money benefited 601 farmers and that the total balance outstanding was over N$59 million, as at July 31, saying the amount includes a capital balance of N$49.150 million and arrears of N$9.987 million.
Equally, Auchab wanted to know whether the post-settlement support fund has achieved the purpose of its establishment to accelerate the process of land acquisition, distribution and development.
The minister clarified that the fund was not established for the acquisition and distribution of land, but to respond to agrarian issues and in particular the challenges faced by newly resettled farmers in respect to access to finance and capacity building.
This, he said, was done in order to make a meaningful and successful contribution to the resettlement programme. "To date 601 farmers have benefited from the fund and this funding is invested in production activities and on farm infrastructure development," he noted.
The Ministry of Land Reform and the Agricultural Bank of Namibia have established a funding scheme for resettled farmers to enable them to enhance agricultural productivity.
On the February 17, 2009, the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying their commitment towards empowering resettled farmers. Nujoma said the said loan was interest-bearing and noted it has fixed repayment terms.
The minister said at July 31, the fund held cash balances in current investment accounts at various financial institutions, such as Bank Windhoek, Nampost and First National Bank. Out of N$29 million, the fund accrued interest of just over N$781,000.
"As at 31 July 2017, the funds hold assets worth N$88.838 million. This represents N$29.7 million in cash and N$59.138 million in respect of loans advanced,' he explained.
Resettlement farmers were urged to apply for loans at a low fixed interest rate of 4 percent per annum. The loans are tailored to meet important financing needs of resettlement farmers, which include crop production, machines and infrastructure, livestock, large and small stock, draught animals and others, as well as poultry.
Applicants must be Namibian and resettled and must provide an allocation letter or lease agreement signed by the line minister and should be prepared to show ability to repay the loan.
Those with registered businesses should provide proof of taxes (PAYE). For game farming or lodges, applicants are expected to submit business plans and income statements - if any are available.