By Southern Times writer
When Dr.Joggie Briedenhann applied for a loan at Agribank, he thought the process would be cumbersome and was worried that he would struggle to get a loan to upgrade his farm.
This is due to a public perception that applying for an agricultural loan from Agribank is a challenge. But, Briedenhann ignored the public perception and went ahead and submitted his application to get a loan with the aim of upgrading his farm near Stampriet in the southern part of Namibia.
Briedenhann applied for the loan in 2015 and less than two months later it was approved. The key to getting the loan? “Precision farming my friend, precision farming,” he tells The Southern Times.
Precision farming is one of many modern farming practices that make production more efficient. With precision agriculture, farmers and soils work better, not harder.
Growers are able to take large fields and manage them as though they are a group of small fields. This reduces the misapplication of products and increases crop and farm efficiency.
Briedenhann focuses on farming Bonsmara Cattle and certain small crops. Bonsmara is a breed of cattle known for its high quality beef. It has been scientifically bred and strictly selected for economical production in extensive cattle grazing in sub-tropical climates.
The southern part of Namibia and certainly where Briedenhann’s farm is, is located in a sub – tropical climate hence the need for precision farming.
“When I decided to apply for the loan, I went straight to the Agribank’s offices in Windhoek. I was assisted by a lady, who gave me the necessary information and the application form. I didn’t know anybody there. I didn’t try to cut corners, I just followed the process,” says Dr. Briedenhann who is also an orthodontist by profession.
In an interview at his practice in Windhoek, Briedenhann says there was a lot of paper work exchange between him and Agribank as well as frequent site visits but said in the end the people who were evaluating his application were satisfied and the loan was granted.
“I practice precision farming and I think that’s what Agribank wants. The good part about precision farming is that it helps you manage and control your farm. It allows you to spend money on important things that would bring about change at your farm. I am always encouraging people to switch to precision farming because it is so much better as it saves money and time,” says Dr. Briedenhann.
After the loan was granted, Agribank gave Dr. Briedenhann a choice of whether to receive the whole amount or get part of it and then the Bank would pay directly to contactors upgrading his farm.
Dr. Briedenhann chose the latter and received directly only 15 – 30 percent of the loan money. He said he used the money to upgrade the building, restore the ailing irrigation system, buy fertilizers as well to bring a 22km power line to the farm.
Today, thanks to precision farming, Dr. Briedenhann holds regular auctions and can also count Agribank as a small partner.
“I have never had a problem with Agribank. Even now when I am having an auction and a farmer is buying through Agribank, I release the animal without immediate payment because I know that the money would come. It’s a small partnership that we have and it just shows that when things are done well, Agribank won’t just give you a loan but would also support your business,” he says.
Dr. Briedenhann says whenever he sells a cow, he always visit the person he sold it to, “it’s all about precision farming. I like to see how the animal is doing even when I have sold it. It’s just my passion.”
He said he intends on repaying the loan given to Agribank saying that it is the only way other people can also benefit.
“The process of applying and getting a loan from Agribank was much easier compared to when applying from other banks. As long as your paper work is in order. When my loan was granted we sat down and we agreed to as how much I would be paying per month and for how long. When you have a problem the people at Agribank listens.
It is because of this that I am urging all the farmers who got loans to pay back so that others can also benefit. I am also still paying and intent on honouring the repayment plan.”