PM hails CRDB for 1.7tri/- loans to agri-sector

DAR ES SALAAM: PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has commended CRDB Bank for tripling loans to the agriculture sector to a whopping 1.715tri/- last year from 545bn/- in the previous year.

He said the loans had helped to boost growth of the sector which employs about two thirds of Tanzanians and contributes nearly the third of the GDP and about quarter of total exports.

“I want you [CRDB] to think and find a way where more ‘wananchi’ will be able to join the agricultural and fishing sectors to increase productivity and efficiency while embracing technology without forgetting climate change issues,” the PM said when gracing the lender’s Uwekezaji Day yesterday in Dar es Salaam.

Agriculture employs about 67 per cent of Tanzanians and contributes about 28 per cent of the country’s GDP and about 24 per cent of the total exports. The PM also tasked the CRDB to come up with a way of increasing the cooperation between the government and all stakeholders in agriculture.

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The Uwekezaji Day was preceded by exhibitions from the bank’s customers in the agri-sector and acted as the platform for farmers to identify opportunities while addressing some challenges they faced.

Mr Majaliwa said the government is undertaking deliberate efforts to enable farmers benefit from investment opportunities through the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) which reduced the minimum capital for local investors to obtain the Certificate of Incentives from 100,000 US dollars (260m/-) to 50,000 US dollars (130m/-).

CRDB’s Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director, Mr Abdulmajid Nsekela, said despite dishing out 1.715tri/- in one year the sector is still dominated by small-scale farmers by 91 per cent while irrigation area is also small although is picking up.

Data show that out of over 44 million hectares of arable land in Tanzania, only 2.5 per cent of it is under irrigation.

“This is still a small amount to say. We need concerted efforts from the government and the private sector to address the challenge,” he said.

The sector is facing several challenges that require urgent response including inadequate farming inputs, inadequate seeds and goods market information, low international standards and lack of funds investment, lack of research information, and lack of training for farmers.

CRDB, according to Mr Nsekela, has already started to address some challenges for instance by coming up with special farmers’ loans at affordable rates for acquiring farm machines, building irrigation infrastructure and running the farms. For the warehouse receipt system, the bank issued a single loan size of up to 80bn/- “From small to large farmers, we provide insurance for harvest, drought or flood, and the effects of climate change,” said Mr Nsekela.

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