Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Significant investment in agricultural education, followed by targeted micro-loans, is having a hugely positive effect on Tanzania’s agricultural sector, according to Robert Pascal, the head of agri-business for Tanzania’s National Microfinance Bank (NMB).

Operating primarily in parts of the country where farming is still the main source of income, the NMB currently has over 170 branch offices in 90 different regions nationwide. Thanks in part to a $588 million loan from the U.S., the bank has been able to issue micro-loans to over 261,000 farmers throughout Tanzania.

Before issuing these loans, however, the bank invests in a more far-reaching, structural fashion, providing educational opportunities on topics ranging from fertilizer benefits to improving overall farm efficiency. About 500,000 farmers nationwide have attended the seminars.

The seminars are helping spread best practices in a sector that still comprises some 30%+ of Tanzania’s GDP.

Currently just 16-17% of Tanzanian farmers employ basic fertilizers to improve crop yields, and 92% of farmers still rely on hand hoes to harvest their crops. Training on how to employ more modern technologies, followed by loans that allow the farmers to invest in them, have already been showing positive results.

The NMB has been working closely with agricultural research institutions and farm equipment suppliers to ensure the program is functioning smoothly from start to finish.

To date, the NMB has issued upwards of $150 million in targeted micro-loans at every level of the agricultural production chain.

“Substantial finance to agriculture, particularly in the latest and most relevant technology, is an important component in commercializing” the business, Pascal said. “The NMB will continue to support farmers to make farming a highly paying business.”

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