Land Bank dismisses perceptions of shunning white commercial farmers

The Land Bank has stated its commitment to supporting local farmers. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ Independent Newspapers

The Land Bank has stated its commitment to supporting local farmers. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ Independent Newspapers

Published May 17, 2024


The Land and Agricultural Development Bank (Land Bank) has dismissed the perception that it was no longer focusing on assisting large white commercial farmers following grumblings from certain sections of the agricultural industry.

Land Bank CEO Themba Rikhotso, speaking at the annual Grain SA NAMPO Harvest Day this week, said this perception was not true as the bank continued to pay attention to all market segments, including large white commercial farmers.

“We are also working hard to rebuild our credibility with our farmers and that will happen when they start to feel the impact of the bank in their businesses,” Rikhotso said.

“We have been out there engaging with farmers and we are pleased to say this message is finding resonance with farmers and stakeholders in the sector.”

Rikhotso, who has been at the helm for more than a year, said it has been an incredible journey seeing “funded farmers blossom into incredible farmers”.

He said the bank was determined to support local farmers during these trying times.

The challenges faced by the sector included erratic weather patterns, poor road and rail infrastructure, and frequent power cuts due to load shedding, which disrupted farming operations.

“In the financial year ended March 2024 we have deployed just over R700 million to assist farmers in dealing with some of the challenges they are currently experiencing,” Rikhotso said.

In March, Agri SA said the 12.2% decline in the agricultural sector in the fourth quarter of 2023 had sent shock waves throughout the industry.

The organisation said the sector grappled with enduring structural challenges, including the debilitating effects of load shedding, logistical bottlenecks, and escalating input costs.

These systemic issues compounded the woes faced by livestock and poultry producers, exacerbating the sector’s overall decline, it said.

Meanwhile, Rikhotso said the Land Bank was exploring opportunities for alternative sources of funding, as part of revitalising its strategy, to ensure that farmers were appropriately funded as a development finance institution to effectively carry out its mandate.

“We are also engaging with provincial government departments to collaborate in the consolidation of grant funding capacity for the benefit of the sector,” he said.