JOHANNESBURG - The land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa (Land Bank) boosted its profits for the six months to September by 71.8percent.

The Land Bank generated profit before other comprehensive income of R57.25million, up from R33.32m compared with the same period last year, it said yesterday.

The increase was attributable largely to improved net interest income of R632.2m, up by R18.6m, or 3percent; lower impairment charges down by R35.5m, or 19.4percent; and an increase in other income, mainly represented by investment income, which increased by R23.5m, or 46.5percent.

The bank also reported an increase of 7.4percent in operating income from banking activities to R352.66m, up from R328.48m.

The bank made R2billion available during the year through its developmental sector to support emerging farmers. This was despite the agricultural sector experiencing challenges, including drought and avian influenza.

“The asset quality of the bank’s loan book continues to improve, with non-performing loans down to 5.8percent from 8.7percent for the comparative period, and 7.1percent as reported for financial year 2017,” the bank said.

It added that funding initiatives had been very positive during the first half of 2018, with strong debt and capital market support received during the period under review.

During the period, the bank achieved significant milestones. In September, it raised R1bn in a bond auction and in June the bank received a $300m (R4.23bn) loan facility with a 10-year maturity.

Looking ahead to the year to end March 2018 results, the group said the financial success would hinge on the Land Bank’s ability to continue delivering on its mandate within the uncertain economic environment.