Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi this week said the agricultural sector is no doubt one of the priority sectors for economic development and diversification.
“The fact remains money is never enough,” said Shiimi while responding to issues raised during the second reading of the 2021/22-2023/24 medium-term expenditure framework, on which concerns were raised on investment in agriculture and water.
The agriculture, land reform and water ministry has been allocated N$1.7 billion, of which N$465.3 is earmarked for the water sub-sector.
“The government interventions are mainly for infrastructure and services to address supply-side constraints and enable the private sector to invest in production and agro-processing while leveraging value chains in the sector,” said Shiimi.
Furthermore, he noted, investments are made to enable the sector cope with the adverse impacts of climate change and the occasional outbreak of unpredictable adverse events.
Shiimi said the government’s contribution toward water infrastructure development amounts to N$1.5 billion, such that the estimated total investment outlay in the water sector is estimated at over N$5.7 billion over the next five years.
During the 2020/21 financial year, Agribank successfully introduced the Covid-19 stimulus and relief package, secured by a government guarantee. This package commenced on 1 June 2020 and runs until 31 May 2021.
To date, a total of 229 relief applications have been approved by the bank, with more approvals expected before the end of the relief period.
Furthermore, Agribank extended N$200 million in new loans during the 2020/21 financial year, benefiting 746 farmers.
Through these interventions, the bank secured 7 800 employment in the agricultural sector for the financial year 2020/21.
For the financial year 2021/22, the bank has budgeted an amount of N$350 million for agricultural activities.
“Water infrastructure is among the priority areas of the Harambee Prosperity Plan II in which government is embarking upon implementing various projects in the water sector in central and coastal areas,” he added.
Shiimi also stated that commercial banks disbursed loans totalling N$18.1 billion to the agriculture sector in 2020.
This amount represents about 5% of total loan disbursements in 2020.