Abi Group, Opportunity Bank Boost Coffee Farmers in Three Districts

The Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi) group has partnered with Opportunity bank to boost 3,000 coffee farmers in Mubende, Mityana and Masaka districts with a project worth Shs 1.4bn.

Through their umbrella body, Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance (UCFA), the farmers considered in the pilot phase of the partnership are set to access financial services, including loans and digital market information.

According to officials of the bank and aBi group, a mobile money platform is to be created, through which loans will be disbursed to the farmers. Farmers will use the same channel on their mobile phones to access vital market information and for servicing the loans.

Speaking at the signing the deal on Monday, aBi acting Chief Executive Officer Peter Ochienghs said the use of mobile money technology would enable farmers to access and manage finances without going to a bank branch. This will work among producer organisations (POs) comprising of 20 to 30 farmers, depot committees, and coffee companies to boost production and quality standards of coffee, he explained.

ABi group has offered a grant of Shs 830 million for the project, expected to increase coffee production and improve farmer skills in good agriculture practices. Andre Lalumiere, the chief executive officer of Opportunity bank, announced that they would contribute Shs 600 million towards delivering the financial services to UCFA.

ABi Group Communications Officer Josephine Aguma said the project would cover as many as 5,000 coffee farmers after the pilot phase later this year. Coffee remains one of Uganda’s main export commodities, but records show that the cash crop’s exports, worth 3.15 million tonnes in 2011, declined by 13.4 per cent in 2012.

Source : The Observer

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