The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Crane Bank to Offer Cheap Agric Loans

The interest rate, which is lower than the market average, is expected to boost farmers' production, and encourage farmers to shift from the traditional subsistence farming to commercial farming.

Speaking at the opening of their 40th branch in Ibanda last week, Crane Bank Managing Director A R Kalan said the bank would also list on the Uganda Securities Exchange in April this year, ending a wait that has stretched more than four years.

"Ibanda is an agricultural community and we believe that accessing agricultural funding will help them boost their agriculture," Kalan said.

Patrick Bitature, the chairman at the Uganda Investment Authority, urged youths in the area to take advantage of the facility and engage in mass production of different agriculture products. He added that Ibanda had the potential to become a food hub for bananas, coffee, milk and beef.

"This bank listens, and they will listen to your problems. But don't expect them to give you free money. You have to borrow at an interest rate," he said.

Bitature, a mixed commercial farmer, said he was working on modalities of setting up a mini milk-processing plant, which will offer a market to those who sell milk.

"Milk prices have dropped drastically here by 50 per cent and farmers are not benefitting. There is, therefore, an urgent need for a mini processing plant," Bitature said.

John Byabagambi, the state minister for Works and Transport, who was the chief guest, commended Crane bank for supporting agriculture through offering cheaper finance to farmers.

He said government was committed to boosting agriculture, especially through agricultural loans. The opening of the Ibanda branch is part of Crane bank's strategic plan to have 50 branches by the end of 2014.

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