defaulters will lose their FARMS

About 350 farmers who had been granted loans by the Land Bank but failed to repay them within the stipulated time will have the farms seized.

This was announced by the bank's chief executive Phakamani Hadebe during a media briefing in Tzaneen, Limpopo, yesterday.

He said so far the bank had already seized 15 farms throughout the country. They include one in Tzaneen and seven of them belonging to black emerging farmers.

Hadebe said the bank had a large number of non-performing loans granted to farmers in the past years, causing the Land Bank to work at a loss.

He also said the bank was granted a R700million budget in the previous financial year, which was distributed among developing and commercial farmers "but yielded very low interests because the farmers could not repay".

The aim of the briefing was to highlight to the communities the bank's new turn-around strategy.

The strategy would see farm owners who had been granted loans taking charge to repay the money.

"For the bank to be able to fulfil its mandate, we will need a total budget of R13,5billion annually," Hadebe said.

He attributed the failure to repay loans by farmers to a lack of appropriate risk management, proper skills and that the bank had previously granted loans to emerging farmers who had no farming skills.

"Because of this, the bank had embarked on a roadshow to inform farmers and other stakeholders about its plan to assist them in order to save money.

"This money will be used to support other needy farmers," he said.

The bank would also provide an after-care service to farmers who receive loans, said Hadebe, adding that out of 7000 loan applications, only 85 had been approved in the past three years.