THE LAND Bank recorded a net profit of R394.3 million in the 2013/14 financial year, a 29.4 percent increase from the previous financial year, it said in its annual report released yesterday. This equated to an increase of R89.7m, from its net profit of R304.6m in the year to March 2013, acting chief executive Lindiwe Mdlalose said. The loan book grew from R26.5 billion to R33bn. Investment income increased marginally, from R53.6m to R56.3m. Non-trading and capital items improved from a net loss of R10.1m in 2012/13 to a profit of R9.5m in the year under review. Mdlalose said the agricultural sector’s performance improved in the 12 months to December last year. The gross value of agricultural production last year increased 8.5 percent from 2012 to an estimated R188bn. Total farming debt increased by 15.5 percent. Mdlalose said South Africa continued to be a net exporter of agricultural products. “The value of trade was R72bn for exports, against R57bn for imports.” Mdlalose said the Land Bank’s future relied on the success of farmers and agri-businesses. “The Land Bank has an important role to play in improving the number of sustainable emerging farmers entering the commercial space, while continuing to support commercial farmers to ensure they remain competitive,” she said. “Our healthy financial outlook… enables us to attract other potential investors and multilateral funders at relatively competitive rates. Such presents the bank with an opportunity to competitively increase its investment in the sector.” – Sapa