KAMPALA – PostBank a financial institution that is committed to empowering lives has today concluded a series of agricultural forums that sought to enhance farmers’ skills and capacity in the agriculture value chain.
The forums, which hosted more than 150 farmers in the districts of Mubende, Lira, Anaka, Bweyale, Hoima, Masindi, and Gulu are part of the bank’s larger plan to empower farmers as well as uplift and enhance their production capacity and incomes.
Moses Byenkya, the Hoima District Farmers’ Association (HODIFA) coordinator, during the agricultural forum held in Hoima, applauded PostBank for organizing such an initiative in which he said, farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture value chain had learnt about the bank’s different service offerings that can be used to enhance their income as well as commercialize agriculture.
Through the forums, he added, several farmers in organized groups and smallholder farmers that grow crops on between one and five acres had learnt that they can access financing to improve their yields after which they can access post-harvest handling and asset financing loans such as tractors to help them conduct agriculture as a business.
“I have personally benefited from these loans. I got a loan from PostBank but in less than nine months, I was able to return it, which is a bit fair for a smallholder farmer. The interest on the loans is very low and friendly. We [HODIFA] encourage farmers to do farming as a business. Farm on a large scale and do value addition so that you can maximize profit,” Byenkya asserted, noting that it is at such levels that PostBank comes in with services such as post-harvest handling and asset financing loans.
However, he remarked that there was a need to relax requirements that are needed for one to acquire loans, especially for smallholder farmers in groups registered under NAADS, HODIFA, and Operation Wealth Creation, among others.
Speaking at the country-wide agricultural forums, Jimmy Ocen, Manager Agricultural Lending at PostBank, reiterated the bank’s commitment to improving the agriculture sector. “We have through a number of initiatives sought to intervene in agricultural financing, an area that has for a long time been starved of credit due to associated and assumed risks.”
Ocen also emphasized PostBank’s mission to continue holding agricultural forums that will support farmers at all levels. “We have a long-term strategy to uplift our farmers from hardship so we will continue to engage them at village and sub-county level.”
Due to low financing, agriculture, which employs more than 70% of Ugandans, accounting for up to 37% of the country’s GDP, is largely dominated by subsistence farming, which has condemned it to low output given that farmers have limited access to fertilizers, agricultural machinery, and useful data.
Farmers are also faced with other challenges such as heavy reliance on weather patterns, pests, and diseases, among others.
During the agricultural forums, PostBank, which was joined by experienced input and solar irrigation equipment and agricultural machinery suppliers such as Cooper Motors Corporation and Terra Agriculture Solutions, skilled farmers in financial management and value creation in the various agriculture enterprises.
In 2019, PostBank, which boasts of more than 10,000 agriculture borrowers, was awarded as the market leader in agricultural lending during the inaugural Bank of Uganda Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF) Awards.
In addition to providing favorable agricultural loans, PostBank has also been active in stimulating economic recovery, partnering with Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to provide low-interest loans of 13% to small, medium, and large enterprises, which are tailor-made for businesses such as those in primary agriculture, agro-industrialization, and manufacturing or industries that produce essential goods and services for import replacement and export promotion.
The money is available for micro, small and medium enterprises in agriculture with maximum access of up to UGX. 2B at 13% interest to support them in acquiring farm inputs, acquisition of mechanization equipment, improve farming methods, breeds and varieties of crop and livestock as well as offering support to general farm activities.