Farmers tipped on Shs750b climate grant

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Ms Norah Ebukalin examines a sorghum plant. PHOTO/LOMINDA AFEDRARU 

What you need to know:

Ms Lilliane Byarugaba, the sector head for agriculture at Equity Bank, said the farmers can access the money after forming groups or through cooperatives at low interest rates


                                             


KAMPALA. Smallholder farmers in Uganda have been urged to strategise on how to access $200m (about Shs750b), which is being offered to East African countries by the International Fund for Agricultural Development,  an  agency of the United Nations, to mitigate climate change.

Ms Lilliane Byarugaba, the sector head for agriculture at Equity Bank, said the farmers can access the money after forming groups or through cooperatives at low interest rates.

“The total amount is $200m; $180 million is for lending out while the $20 million is for technical advisory assistance. It’s going to be implemented in Equity Bank branches across the region,” Ms Byarugaba said.

She added: “$45m is coming to Uganda and we also anticipate $10m from the Royal Danish Embassy of Uganda for technical advisory assistance.”

Most commercial banks in Uganda charge between 18 and 20 percent as interest rates for borrowing. Ms Byarugaba, however, said the interest rates for accessing the funds will be affordable.

 “Interest rates will vary depending on how much the cooperative will be borrowing. It’s concessional because remember we are getting funding from IFAD, which is also getting it from the Green Climate Fund,” she said.

Equity Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA) to enable cooperative societies access the money.

Added benefits

Mr Ivan Asiimwe, the UCA general secretary, said they have a total of 45,189 registered cooperative societies, noting that the MoU will allow cooperatives to access the money at low interest rates.

“We know the power of cooperatives in this country and we are over 18 million Ugandans who are members of these cooperatives and the majority are smallholder farmers,” Mr Asiimwe said.

He added: “There is too much sunshine and floods are destroying our crops and animals and the most important thing is for people to have the information on how to access financing and to change from a traditional way of grazing to modern.”

State Minister for Cooperatives Fredrick Gume Ngobi urged smallholder farmers to adapt to modern farming methods to avoid losses because of climate change.

“In the village, the current situation is that they tend to call themselves rich by the number of cows they have. But they are making a loss, take an example of a farm with 80 cows but is getting 20 litres of milk.  Instead of 80, you change to zero grazing,” he said.