TANZANIA – The NMB Bank, a commercial bank in Tanzania, has set aside US$217.65 million (Tshs500 billion) to finance milk processing ventures in a bid to boost several milk processing plants in the country.

The financial institution said that the funding, which will be available as a credit facility, is also aimed at boosting milk consumption per capita and increasing efforts of creating a ready market for the dairy sector.

According to Mboka Mwanitu, NMB’s Research Officer, the move is geared towards assisting milk processing industry in the country adding that do far about US$13.06 million (Tsh 30 billion) has been dished out, the Daily News reports.

“There are several institutions focusing on milk production and entrepreneurs, who have borrowed some Tsh30 billion to develop the sector and raise milk production in the country,” she added.

She further said that the loans will be issued to facilitate livestock farmers acquire modern equipment for milk storage, milking as well as feeders, vaccination and treatment of the livestock.

In addition, the funding seeks to improve quality breeds of the cattle population, to ensure reliable and centralized centres to collect milk.

Statistics form the Tanzania Dairy Board (TDB) shows that on average a Tanzanian consumes 49 litres of milk which is well below the standardized health requirement of 200 litres per year.

TDB Chairperson, Lucas Malunde, said the country still needs to close the investment gap in the sector through setting up more milk processing units in order to increase milk production.

He noted that increased consumption and processing capacity in plants will offset growth in the sector.

Speaking during the recently held 10th Milk Challenges Week meeting in Arusha, Prof Elisante Ole Gabriel, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock, called for financial institutions in the country to support potential investors showing interest to invest in milk production an area which has not fully looked onto by lenders.

The meeting was attended by stakeholders in the sector who deliberated on how to improve milk quality, address challenges related to modern breeds species and sustenance in the industry.

This comes at a time when the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released a recent report calling for more funding in the agriculture sector to promote food security in rural areas.

According to the agriculture think tank, rural employment strategies, such as policies supporting agricultural commercialisation and off-farm employment, within broader strategies for agricultural transformation and development need to be adopted.