Government, Land Bank fund alternative power solutions for farmers.

The department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development says the R1.21-billion Agro Energy Fund, a partnered effort between the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the state-owned agricultural Land Bank, aims to provide financing for farmers to find alternative energy solutions. The department says the fund aims to alleviate the negative impacts of rolling blackouts on agricultural producers, who have lost millions in revenue and large amounts of produce due to the ongoing energy crisis. The blended financial instrument includes grants and loans, ranging between R500,000 and R1.5-million. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will contribute R500-million towards the grant aspect of the fund, while the Land Bank will match that with R710-million for the loan portion. Small-scale farmers can receive financing in the form of a 70% grant and a 30% loan, with the grant set at a maximum of R500,000. Medium-scale farmers will receive 50% of the grant with a 50% loan capped at R1-million, while large-scale and mega commercial producers are eligible for a 30% grant and a 70% loan capped at R1.5-million. The Land Bank will also roll out its Green Finance product offering with a focus on financing solar panels, biogas, and biomass plants, which will result in the installation and commissioning of energy-efficiency projects across the country, partially offseting electricity usage from the grid.

Journalist: Thulani Sigonya

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