MBOMBELA: (By Adela Du)– More than 300 000 farmers in Mpumalanga are set to benefit from a bank that only services co-operatives.
The African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa) has kick-started the development of a co-operative bank, which is expected to start operating in the next three months.
“The bank will launch branches in all the districts of the province, depending on which area is more active as a matter of which one will start first. It is expected that not less than 300 000 farmers will be able to benefit in the next five years within the province,” said Afasa secretary Lethu Mthethwa.
Afasa president Job Mthombeni said discussions regarding the bank commenced in April and focused on mobilising farmers and cooperatives to join hands and “be agents of change” in establishing the institution.
“We hope that this will contribute to vibrant and sustainable rural communities in Mpumalanga, creating jobs and generating income,” Mthombeni said.
Mthombeni said the bank would enable members to have easy access to affordable banking services and would be established to create a strong, sustainable, independent financial structure.
“The bank will be run and managed by the members themselves, well trained staff and an experienced board of directors,” he said.
Mthombeni is the chairman of a 15-member board that has already undergone training from June 10 – 12 in Ermelo.
Mthethwa said that the bank would initially focus on emerging farmers until an appropriate level of development is achieved before moving on to include other spheres of the agricultural sector.
“We are encouraging Afasa members and all farmers to invest R600 each to build the necessary initial capital for the establishment of the bank, with the goal of commencing operations within the next three months,” Mthethwa said.
Dennis Nkuna, a farmer from the Nkomazi Cotton Farmers Association in Steenbok, welcomed the initiative.
“This is a great idea. We will be able to have ownership, access to finances and loans in our own cooperative bank; I believe this is a remarkable step to greater things in the agricultural industry,” Nkuna said.
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