By Moses Sserwanga
For many farmers of Agago , financial literacy and banking is a new phenomenon since many of them had never even entered a banking hall . The farmers in this remote district of Agago in northern Uganda keep their money under their mattress a practice which does not encourage saving and investment .
As a result ,the farmers continue to wallow in poverty with little or nor savings at all. This problem however ,may soon be history following a campaign by Bank of Africa to extend financial services to the remote parts of the country.
A new Bank of Africa branch has been set up in Patongo Kalongo in Agago district to encourage farmers save money to accelerate agricultural business growth. According to Mr. Paul Tonny Ekwang Bank of Africa branch manager ,the bank made the decision to set up the branch with support from aBi Trust to demystify the use of the phrase “lack of cash flow” among the farmers.
“ We want the farmers to take advantage of the available resources such as Ox-plough, bulls, ample land , human resource synergy to generate income for themselves and their businesses. That’s why we are training farmers in financial literacy which covers book keeping, the importance of banking , available financial products to boost agricultural production and marketing among other,” Ekwang says.
Four hundred and eighty ( 480) farmers in selected business member groups have been trained in Lira Palwo, Omot, Omiya Pacwa sub counties and Patongo and Kalongo town councils. “ The purpose of the training was to equip community beneficiaries with knowledge on basic records keeping and financial management, value addition so that good quality farm produce is taken to the market. That way , farmers earn much more and grow their capacity to save and take advantage of other available financial opportunities within the banking sector,” he explains.
Ekwang said that after the training farmers are in position to determine their cash sales and have cash record book kept for each member. Farmers are also able to take on agriculture as a business which leads to increased sales of agriculture produce.
The farmers are also encouraged to approach the Bank of Africa branches in Patongo and Kalongo to open and maintain bank accounts, access loan facilities during planting , harvesting and marketing agricultural produce to increase income .
The bank manager was encouraged to note that following the training farmers who had hitherto never entered a banking hall have come up to open bank accounts. We have realized shs.31m in deposits from new clients .
The bank has also helped farmers to bring financial services near to them. People had to travel long distance to access a bank in Pader district. With support from aBi Trust , the bank managed to open a new branch in Patongo, bought motor cycles they use to travel to the villages to mobilise and train farmers in financial matters.
Because of trauma resulting from the two decade LRA war some farmers fear to approach the bank because of the armed police guards.
70% of the farmers want to open a Dero (personal ) accounts but do not have photos, identity cards and LC letters which are some of the requirements for opening up an account .
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