‘Extend more credit to farmers to spur growth’

03Aug 2020
The Guardian
‘Extend more credit to farmers to spur growth’

VICE President Samia Suluhu Hassan has urged financial institutions to accelerate lending to farmers to boost their capital base and productivity.

VICE President Samia Suluhu Hassan

With nearly 70 per cent of Tanzanians depending on agriculture for a living, lenders have a moral obligation to pump more money into the sector as it employs the majority of citizens.

The VP made the call at the weekend while launching this year’s Agriculture Exhibition, NaneNane 2020 being held nationally at Nyakabindi Stadium in Simiyu region.

This year’s fair carries the slogan “For Agricultural Development, Livestock and Fisheries Choose the Best Leaders 2020.”

She said despite that financial institutions are major contributors to growth in the crop, livestock and fisheries sectors, there is still need for greater issuance of loans to farmers and traders, as currently only nine percent of loans issued by banks go to agriculture. This level of lending is inadequate, the VP insisted.

She commended some commercial banks which have started selling insurance policies to farmers, a gesture that takes up government efforts to  move to extend insurance cover to farmers on the basis of their economic activities.

“It is high time for lenders to start investing in the construction of crop warehouses,” she said, noting that such infrastructure is vital in the growth and overall development of the agricultural sector.

The participation of banks and the wider private sector in the show was commendable as their presence would be a catalyst in the growth and development of agriculture. This is in tandem with government efforts to uplift priority areas that are strategically vital for production and enhancing productivity in agriculture, the VP underlined.

Acting NMB Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Benedicto Baragomwa, told Vice President Samia that the bank has started selling insurance policies to farmers, through its risk management business, which trades as “NMB Bancassurance.” It is increasingly becoming popular with its value for money to customers, he stated..

NMB has this year set aside 1.9bn/- for supporting construction of crop warehouses in various regions, which the government says is an area that requires full support of financial institutions, he affirmed.

The bank has contributed 42.5m/- to this year’s Farmers Day and exhibition bonanza attracting big lenders, numerous exhibitors and thousands of visitors, he stated.

NMB will continue supporting the government to empower farmers, livestock keepers and fishing activity, while seeking to extent accessibility to services by wider digital footprint, he said.

For his part, NBC Bank Managing Director Theobald Sabi said the country’s economy can be transformed through mechanization. Improvement of agriculture and its further commercialization require that farmers take advantage of tailor-made agricultural financial solutions like “NBC Shambani.”

“We are proud to be part of NaneNane Agriculture Fair 2020 as a major sponsor. Agricultural development has always been among our top priorities and we are at the forefront of promoting this important sector,” he said.

For the third consecutive time, NBC has injected 40m/- to help sponsor the exhibition.

“NBC wishes to offer more support to agro-based activities by enabling farmers access equipment for agricultural mechanization through the NBC Shambani product,” he said, noting that it was vital to get young people involved in agriculture so as to boost its dynamism.

Sabi further spoke of changes in lending to farmers as the bank was in collaboration with the Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade). It organized a business seminar for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) featuring farmers. The participants would be trained on how to correctly execute   reporting of loans, he explained..

 “And if the farmer sets out to get a loan, then he or she will definitely get it. We try to make this procedure as clear and open as possible,” he emphasized.

The NaneNane Fair is meant to highlight innovation and identify imperatives to achieve food security and sustainable development. It similarly provides an ideal platform for local and international agriculture stakeholders to exchange views, discern trends and confer on new developments, along with seizing market opportunities.

The show offers visitors an opportunity to evaluate a wide range of agricultural technologies, equipment and related products, meet key decision-makers and find out best practices espoused by exhibitors.

Japhet Hasunga, the minister for Agriculture, commended President John Magufuli for attaining the vision of Tanzania becoming a middle-income economy five years earlier than envisaged. The farming community has played a key role in these developments, the minister noted.

The contribution of the agricultural sector in realizing that goal was beefed up by various stakeholders, especially banks through lending and advisory services, he added.

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