Building and Financing the 'Missing' Medium Scale
Across East Africa commercial banks are cash-rich but this rarely goes to agriculture. Although the sector generates 50-70% of national incomes and is the region's largest employer it receives less than 3 percent of total commercial lending. Even then, agricultural investment focuses on plantations, horticulture, and export crops. Smallholder farmers are largely neglected, even though they are the principal contributors to food security in the regional economy. They are considered too risky for lending. Kilimo Trust has worked to address these disparities.
- In Tanzania and Uganda Stanbic Bank has provided US$5 million in First Loss Loan Guarantees in order to institutionalize commercial bank credit products for smallholder farmers and SMEs participating in key agricultural value chains for specific commodities such as maize, rice, sunflower, beans, sorghum and barley. Loans were made available to support primary production, post-harvest handling, storage, processing, transportation, and trade in agricultural inputs and produce. This is the largest single effort of any bank to lend at scale to agriculture in the region. An example is loans totalling US$2 million to support ten registered producer groups growing barley for Tanzania Breweries Ltd (p??) – a major step for both the brewery and farmers. In 2011 Stanbic Bank, Uganda committed to disburse loans worth US$10 million to smallholders and SMEs.
- In Uganda the cooperative movement has transformed into private Area Cooperative Enterprises and engages in organized grain production for better prices and services. Some 2,000 farmers have invested in grain storage facilities and a warehouse receipt system, and now command 30% above average market prices. One cooperative has secured contracts to supply 4,000MT of sorghum to Nile Breweries, 580MT of maize to the World Food Programme, and 200MT of sorghum seed to a private seed company.
- Innovative micro-credit facilities are being introduced across East Africa to enable low-income households to benefit from the introduction of clonal forest technology for small and medium size entrepreneurs to establish tree nurseries. The credit facilities provides the poor with opportunities to take advantage of this important and growing industry.