TANZANIA – Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank (TADB) has pledged to provide affordable loans to small-scale farmers with a focus on enhancing palm farming and production of edible oil in the country, reports Daily News.

The loans are meant to meet farming costs and increase palm oil availability by supporting production of quality oil palm seeds.

TADB will collaborate with the Tanzania Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) to produce quality oil palm seeds that will be sold at reasonable prices to farmers in Kigoma region in a bid to improve cultivation of the crop.

This was part of the various interventions the agricultural bank is making to help boost the country’s agricultural sector.

According to TADB acting executive director Japhet Justine, this follows the government’s call for more palm oil cultivation in order to increase production of cooking oil in the country.

“We also plan to give soft loans to palm oil farmers in the region to enable them cultivate productively.

The loans will be channelled through farmers’ cooperative societies,” said Justine.

“We will conduct capacity building training for small scale farmers before offering them the loans.”

Farmers will be able to meet all the production costs including purchase of fertilizers and other inputs.

Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa reiterated on the need to improve palm oil cultivation through the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP).

Second phase of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP II) was launched in June aimed at addressing challenges, constraints in the sector, speed up agriculture gross domestic product, improve growth of smallholder incomes and ensure food security by 2025.

The agriculture bank will collaborate with district councils in the respective areas to provide trainings and capacity building to all cooperative societies so that they may guide farmers to increase productivity.

With the initiative, Tanzania is seeking to reduce edible oil import bills

Kigoma Region is leading in palm production with an area suitable for cultivation of palm estimated at 114,018 hectares, although only 19,640.9 is cultivated, equivalent to 17.2 per cent producing 31,750.90 tonnes.

The current production is estimated at 78,563.600 tonnes, which is 4.0 tonnes per hectare and this is partly supported by 27 agricultural research institutes specializing quality seeds and extension services.