Commercial banks can cut back on their lending to the agricultural sector if they believe there is too much risk — but the Land Bank does not have that option. Other than an ill-fated diversification into golf courses, which it is now writing off, its entire focus has been on land and agriculture. It is not a conventional bank — it is not a member of the Banking Association, for example, but a development institution, owned by the government. It has a higher risk tolerance. Its target for nonperforming loans is below 10% (to its credit this is falling from 7.1% to 6.7% in 2018). Emerging farmers will certainly turn to the Land Bank before commercial banks, and they will expect a more sympathetic hearing. But the bank has a dual mandate: to support both the commercial sector and emerging farmers. Commercial loans, usually to established "white" farmers, account for 80% of the loan book. With total loans of R43.4bn, the Land Bank claims a 29% share of all agricultural loans extended.L...

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