Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Farmers in the Rwenzori region have been advised to plan ahead of time if they are to benefit from the Agriculture Credit Facility fund put in place by the government through Bank of Uganda.
The fund was instituted to help farmers stimulate the agribusiness sector through production, value addition among other avenues.
While meeting stakeholders in the agricultural value chain in Fort Portal city on Wednesday, Jimmy Ocen, the manager “agriculture lending officer” at post bank observed that most farmers tend to apply for the agricultural credit facility loans when the season is already on.
He explains that even though the loan is processed and approved, delays might sometimes lead to late planting or application of fertilizers which negatively impact on the farmer on either produce or market.
Ocen says many farmers are struggling to recover agricultural credit facility loans because a bigger number of them divert funds into other activities like school fees, business enterprises and luxury and by the time they think about applying the funds for the intended purpose, it’s already too little for anything hence struggling to recover.
He says the agriculture credit facility fund is also affected by low uptake from the intended category, this he attributed it to lack of enough information flow by the public.
“We want to identify the challenges the farmers are facing because when we understand their concerns, it helps us deal with them accordingly,” added Ocen.
Paul Drake Kasande, the head of private sector in Fort Portal city says the agricultural credit facility fund would help further improve on the agribusiness enterprise in the country, but added that the bureaucracy and high interest rates that surround the fund makes it hard for the public to utilize the opportunity.
Kasande says most Ugandans are small scale entrepreneurs and therefore there is need to establish a fund with friendly terms to accommodate people with small business apart from the medium enterprise only to address the matter of inclusiveness.
March Kasaija, a farmer and entrepreneur in Kabarole district called for reduction of the interest rates on agricultural loans to enable farmers be able to pay back the accessed loans on time. He has also advised farmers to acquire full knowledge about a particular farming enterprise before venturing into it.
As a risk mitigation factor, Kasaija advised fellow farmers to embrace modern farming practices by using mechanization and improved seed varieties.