Tanzania: NMB Backs Sisal Reviving Plan

NMB Bank has vowed to continue supporting the revival of sisal crop and so far it has issued 6.0bn/- loans for the purpose.

The bank as one of the leading lending facilities in the country said it was supportive of the National Vision whereby in the next four years the target was to produce 120,000 tonnes of sisal per year and reclaim its 1960s lost glory as one of the leading global producer.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the government wanted to make sisal one of the leading foreign earning crops by 2025 while at the same time improve farmers' livelihoods.

"The cultivation of sisal and oil palm is relieving us of significant foreign exchange burden, for example, by encouraging the cultivation of oil palm we are saving more than $470m to import oil," the Prime Minister said.

The PM was the chief guest at a sisal cultivation stakeholders' meeting which was held in Tanga.

NMB Bank Chief Retail Banking Filbert Mponzi said they would continue reviving the cultivation of the crop because it was one of the potential crops to earn the country in forex.

"The bank has continued providing inputs and development loans to sisal farmers - small, medium to large-scales ones - to increase production and improve their livelihoods. We have already issued more than 6.0bn/- so far," Mr Mponzi told the PM.

Since the government started reviving the crop, the bank had issued more than 1.0bn/- for the purchase of various sisal farming implements, including 11 tractors and 22 trailers.

The lender also opened accounts for more than 1,500 farmers for both individual and grassroots associations.

"The existence of these accounts creates a culture of farmers using banking services to bank their money and benefit more from financial services, including credit," Mr Mponzi said.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said currently the ministry had already set aside 175bn/- for research to produce quality and affordable seeds.

Mr Bashe said the ministry had been able to prepare a guarantee system that would enable smallholder farmers to access loans from financial institutions at an interest rate of only two per cent.

At independence in 1961, the country was the world leader in sisal production and over 200,000 tonnes of sisal were produced annual, employing over one million workers. The crop was the country's highest foreign exchange earner and was referred to as Tanzania's 'green gold'.

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