For the 6th year running, dfcu Bank in partnership with Vision Group, KLM Airlines, Koudjis and the Netherlands Embassy has awarded Uganda’s best farmers country wide through an initiative dubbed ‘Harvest Money’. As part of the activities, farmers were called upon to participate in a competition aside from the farming training conducted throughout the year.
The initiative aims to highlight the contribution of agriculture to the development of the economy and also change the negative perception that most Ugandans hold towards agriculture as not being a good career option.
According to the United Nations, the world needs to produce around 75 per cent more food over the next 40 years just to keep in line with the global population growth, which is expected to top 9 billion by 2050. In fact, the East African region is home to more than 145 million people and growing. Uganda’s agriculture gross domestic production is estimated at more than USD 3 Billion. At face value, growing populations and rising affluence across the African continent means there are enormous opportunities for agricultural produce.
During the panel discussion, different challenges were sighted that the agricultural sector currently struggles with, among which are; poor organisation and management of cooperatives and farmer groups, inadequate and or ineffective policies, poor quality inputs, uncontrolled and uncoordinated production, lack of expertise of financial institutions in managing agricultural loan portfolios, and lack of access to capital due to limitations of bank acceptable collateral.
In his speech dfcu Bank’s CEO, Mathias Katamba reiterated dfcu Bank’s commitment to supporting agricultural development in the country. Additionally, dfcu Bank with support from Rabobank, established a dedicated agribusiness unit in 2013, which is tasked with product development, deal structuring, new client acquisition, act as a knowledge centre for internal consultations and support internal staff training and capacity building. The agribusiness unit supports all agri customer segments with dedicated relationship managers for the corporate and commercial clients while the retail clients are served by agricultural loans officers that sit in the different branches.
“We have a strong heritage as a provider of affordable financing to viable private sector projects. For the last 55 years, dfcu has transformed several commercial agri- Business enterprises in Uganda and is associated with many success stories. Using our suite of flagship products like leasing, term loans and Trade Finance, we provide a mix of working capital, medium and long-term funds to match the business needs of large scale agricultural enterprises” He said
This year, the overall winner was Anthony Mateega of St. Anthony Agribusiness Enterprises from Mpigi District, the second overall winner was Charles Byarugaba a catechist from Kabale who produces potato seeds for sale beside his pastoral work. The third winner was Musasizi from Busembatia.
Vision Groups’ CEO. Robert Kabushenga commended the sponsors for supporting the competition.
“In just six years, the reputation of farming which had been tinted has been transformed. For the last 40 years, people were told to study degrees and wait for white-collar jobs, but now they are into farming and making money,” Kabushega said.
He also said that because of the competition, people’s lives have changed and farmers are earning the respect they deserve in society.
The top three winners have been awarded cash of up to 150 Million and an all-paid trip courtesy of the partners together with the top 10 winners from the different regions.