South Africa - Johannesburg - 30 December 2018 - A Standard Bank logo on one of the branches. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
JOHANNESBURG -  South African lender Standard Bank has partnered with the University of the Free State and the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to assist transformation efforts in the local agriculture industry.

The lender says the five-year project brings together government, academia and the private sector’s financial expertise with the aim to enhance the delivery of crucial skills to black farmers involved in the production of crops and livestock.

The programme is funded by Standard Bank and supported by the faculties of Agriculture and Entrepreneur Development at the University of the Free State.

It will zoom in on farmers identified and supported by the Free State’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Nico Groenewald, head of Agribusiness at Standard Bank, says the objective of the programme is to ensure that farmers receiving financial assistance become sustainable to the point where they can source funding for growing their operations from the traditional banking sector.

“The programme is unique in that it provides ‘end-to-end’ support. The farmer, instead of being given some training and then being left to his own devices, can farm secure in the knowledge that advice is always at hand. He can access the experience required to boost his skills to the points where he becomes a confident, independent operator,” says Groenewald.

The project has already seen 25 farmers undergo a selection process supervised by the university.

Standard Bank says if the project is proven to be a success in the Free State it will be rolled out at other provinces, with the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape earmarked as next destinations.

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