During the financial year ending February 2022 Agribank advanced loans worth N$173.0 million into the agriculture sector.

But out of the total amount advanced, only N$10.8 million or 6.2% was given to women and youth under the Women and Youth Loan Scheme.

The Scheme was introduced a year ago to cater for women above the age of 18 years as well as youth (men and women) between 18 and 35 years, as well as agricultural professionals or graduates above 18 years.

Agribank’s public relations officer Mr Fillemon Nangonya says that Agribank introduced the women and youth scheme to increase the participation of women and youth in farming activities since the scheme comes with distinct features serving as incentives.

“These include interest rates fixed at seven per cent across all loan products under the scheme, one year grace period, and financing of unsecured loans to individuals or entities who do not have collateral, provided that there is an off-take agreement in place to be provided by a client,” Nangonya says.

“Going forward, Agribank endeavors to embed the women and youth scheme and collaborate with key stakeholders to promote off-take agreements in the value chain financing.

“This will enhance market access and availability to farmers and realize greater participation and adoption by small-scale farmers in the sector and increase food security as well as wealth creation among the youth.

“Agricultural finance is the bedrock of food self-sufficiency, wealth creation and improvement in overall economic growth.

“To promote sustainable agriculture, the inclusion of women and youth is vital, therefore, Agribank will continue to focus on addressing inclusivity, promote product diversification, smart climate resilient production systems, technological innovation and embedding financial sustainability.”

In the photo: Nelson Ashipala is a youthful agriculture entrepreneur.