Land Bank needs new captain – Afasa

2014-11-20 17:32

The African Farmers Association of SA (Afasa) has called on Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and the Land Bank Board to appoint a permanent Land Bank CEO.

“The CEO’s post is critical. If not filled urgently, it will impact negatively on service delivery and therefore slow the important processes at the bank,” said Afasa secretary general Aggrey Mahanjana today.

The post had been vacant since CEO Phakamani Hadebe resigned last year.

“A year is too long for such an important position in an institution like the Land Bank to remain unfilled,” said Mahanjana.

He said if the post was not filled in a permanent capacity, it would affect the agricultural sector.

“For an acting person, it is very difficult to make important decisions on key issues.

“The permanent CEO is expected to come up with long-term strategies on how the Land Bank will take up its role as a development bank with a long-term vision of assisting smallholder farmers grow and ultimately become commercial farmers who will feed this country.”

The appointment of a CEO would help address issues including access to finance and problems facing smallholder farmers.

Smallholder farmers still faced major challenges such as the lack of post-finance support, said Mahanjana.

The association called for improved support packages and systems, and for the Land Bank to improve infrastructure and link smallholder farmers to suitable markets.

“We still feel that the Land Bank’s lending criteria and requirements were cumbersome and continued to exclude smallholder farmers,” said Mahanjana.

The time taken for loan approvals was too long and sometimes contributed to farmers’ failure to repay loans, he said.

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