Commercial banks in Uganda have been called to open shop in the western Kiruhura district, which is said have one of the highest agricultural incomes in the country.
The district, which is Uganda’s leading producer or dairy products, remains without as single commercial bank branch.
According to Moses Byaruhanga, the proprietor of Premier Diaries Company, which produces the Mega Milk brand, dairy farmers in the western district remain unbanked and immensely burdened with cash transactions.
“Kiruhura, I think is the wealthiest district outside Kampala,” Mr Byaruhanga noted.
“It receives Shs 10billion every month from milk sales alone. Money going that side is so much but banks don’t realize what they are missing out.”
Byaruhanga while addressing the managers of Bank of Africa at a customer appreciation event in Kampala on Wednesday, said efforts to convince banks open up branches in Kiruhura are remained fruitless.
“I pleaded with Bank of Africa to open a branch in Rushere, but this has yet to happen,” he said.
Mr Byaruhanga says most farmers in the district have to take their money to Centenary Bank in Ibanda or other bank branches in Lyantonde or Mbarara.
He added that farmers in Kiruhura mostly keep their money in their houses, whereas a few others have joined savings and credit organizations.
Many of these, who are involved in large scale production of milk, he said encounter numerous challenges, when it comes to getting paid.
Mr Byaruhanga’s concerns come in the midst of a disappointingly slow pace of financial inclusion in Uganda.
According to Bank of Uganda, Ugandans in rural areas are twice as likely as their urban counterparts to utilise informal groups for financial services and are 1.7 times more likely to be completely excluded from financial services.
The Central Bank in its National Financial Inclusion Strategy (2017 -2022) notes that improving financial inclusion will require a significant focus on rural areas where 71.5% of the population resides.