Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited is committed to continuing to support farmers with financial and non-financial solutions to be able to yield tangible results from their farming activities. This revelation was made by Patrick Twinamatsiko, the Manager in charge of the bank’s Sacco financing.
Twinamatsiko was speaking at the inaugural Seeds of Gold/Farm Clinic event held at NARO – Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute on May 27. This is the second farm clinic happening at this research facility since Nation Media Group (NMG) and partners started implementing the initiative. Seeds of Gold event aims at training farmers in the best farming practices.
The annual event also brings together companies in the agriculture value chain to showcase their products before farmers. The initiative is implemented alongside many partners including Stanbic Bank, an anchor subsidiary of Stanbic Uganda Holdings Limited (SUHL).
This year’s event in Western Uganda targeted farming groups and individuals engaged in coffee, dairy, apiary, goats, passion fruits, bananas, and more. Agricultural experts from NARO and other entities facilitated classes on the different crops/farming activities in a bid to improve farmers’ knowledge and skills – with the ultimate goal of increasing production and productivity.
Twinamatsiko said, once farmers are empowered with farming knowledge, Stanbic comes in to offer financial solutions including SACCO loans, vehicle and asset financing, and related facilities. The Bank has also partnered with other entities like aBi Trust to power SACCOs with solar systems and digital devices to improve their operational efficiency in Western Uganda and beyond.
In addition, Stanbic Bank’s sister company, Stanbic Business Incubator (SBIL) engages farmers in sessions aimed at helping them to improve their business management skills. Twinamatsiko said there is a total of 1924 groupings (SACCOs, Village Savings Loans Associations) in Uganda, out of which 283 are cooperatives.
“It is easy for us to support SACCOs with unsecured loan facilities because they are accountable to themselves than dealing with individual members,” Twinamatsiko said.
He added that the loan repayment rate for the SACCOs they deal with is very good at 97% – which is good for us who are following our money. He also said the Seeds of Gold partnership has provided an opportunity for Stanbic to understand the farming dynamics and get feedback from farmers about Stanbic’s products.
“We have understood over time that the farmer wants credit at a lower interest rate which is why we are giving facilities at 10% – the lowest in the market,” he said.
Benson Turamye, a farmer said by his visiting the Stanbic booth to make inquiries about financial facilities offered would inform his investment decisions. “I want to get a loan for my farm equipment. I am here to ask these people of Stanbic whether they can help me,” he said in an interview.
“It is a good chance for me to interact with the bank but to also learn new farming practices during this event,” Turamye added. Gilbert Alinda, a Business Banker at Stanbic Bank – in charge of branches of Mbarara, Ntungamo, Kabaale and Kisoro said agriculture is a backbone
of Uganda’s economy which is why it is important for Stanbic to join hands with NMG to promote Seeds of Gold annual activity.
“We are here to give a hand in the economic growth of the country. Stanbic comes in to finance through the Bank of Uganda’s Agriculture Credit Facility and other solutions,” Alinda said.
He said that Stanbic believes that by lending to farmers’ groups at an affordable interest rate they are empowering them to invest and make a profit which in the end contributes to social-economic transformation. According to the Head of Ecosystems at Stanbic Bank, Mathias Jjumba, the Bank has rolled out a number of products that are designed specifically to address the farming sector which to date remains uncatered for in many sectors of banking.
Last month, Jumba met sugarcane farmers in Busoga sub-region where the bank rolled out a Sugarcane farmers Customer Value Preposition. Jumba told farmers there that the initiative is designed to help cane farmers cover their grower expenses or expand acreage to enhance their output and meet rising demand for sugar both locally and across East Africa.
He explained that the new products for farmers are designed in the Stanbic spirit of making true their purpose—Uganda is our home, we drive her growth, by providing a variety of personalized services and products to help farmers manage their finances as they start the journey towards accomplishing their dreams. Alinda also said most individual farmers do not have collateral yet they are willing to borrow.
“We continue to advise the farmers to form groups to be able to access finance solutions from us,” he said.
He also said Stanbic’s support for these groups aligns well with government poverty eradication programmes like the Parish Development Model, Emyooga targeting women, youth, and other vulnerable groups.
Joseph Mutaka from the Bank of Uganda Agriculture Credit Facility, said, farmers should have the courage to engage with Banks to access the ACF which comes at an affordable interest rate of 12% interest per annum. “The ACF has been around since 2009 and the money is channeled through commercial banks which the Bank of Uganda regulates,” he said.
Dr. Imelda Kasahaija from Director General’s Office at NARO applauded the partners for implementing the Seeds of Gold initiative saying, teaching the people good agricultural practices would improve production, and productivity and uplift the majority of the population out of poverty.
“This is a good initiative. It is practical which is good for yielding results. I am happy and please tell others to attend similar events,” she said, adding “Things like value addition cannot happen when the farmer is not supported.”