A section of young farmers from different regions of the country asked the government, through the Central Bank of Uganda (BOU), to revise the conditions for access to loans through the Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) to allow more young people to apply.
ACF is a special fund that was set up by the government in partnership with commercial banks, Uganda Development Bank Ltd (UDBL), micro deposit institutions (MDI) and credit institutions in 2009, in the aim to facilitate the provision of medium and long term financing of projects engaged in agriculture and agro processing, focusing mainly on marketing and added value.
Farmers entering small-scale farming can apply for this fund for a minimum of Shs5M and a maximum of Shs5Bn, according to the Bank of Uganda.
Speaking at the farmers’ e-conference on Friday, a section of young farmers said it is difficult for young people to access such loans.
“A young person spends 23 years in school and after that you decide to start farming; and when you apply for such loans, they ask you for a land title or a car logbook, but you don’t own anything, ”said Laban Musinguzi, CEO of AgroFresh Uganda.
“The best thing they can do is give us these loans and the machines we buy from them act as collateral. This will collectively force me to work hard because I have to repay the loan and my growth is being helped by the government, ”he added.
Musinguzi noted that even the 12% interest rate for young farmers is too high for someone starting out.
Maurine Tukahirwe, a young farmer and member of the Youth Coalition for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said the government had not done enough to train young farmers
“The government should start to interest students while staying in schools in the use of agriculture and its benefits for this economy,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dick Kamuganga, the president of the Uganda Farmers’ Federation (UFF) called on the government to promote digital agriculture as it is the sector that has attracted most of the young people.
“This can be done, among other things, by removing the 12% excise tax on the Internet to attract more Internet users.”
Organized by AgroFresh Uganda, Smart Youth Network Initiative, Merchandise Uganda, Post Bank, Female Journalists for Agriculture, Ugandan Farmers Federation and Youth Coalition for SDGs, the conference was part of the International Youth Day celebrations held August 12.