Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli on Monday expressed his displeasure at the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank's (TADB) failure to empower farmers despite over Sh360 billion having been injected into bank for the purpose.
President Magufuli also voiced his concern about the bank's decision to channel funds to other activities, contrary to the objectives of establishing the lender. TADB was established in 2014, and just as soon became popularly known as "the farmers' bank".
Dr Magufuli made the remarks in Dar es Salaam when officially launching phase two of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP II).
He revealed that the government borrowed Sh207 billion, out of which Sh60 billion was immediately injected into the bank as capital for developing the country's agriculture and livestock sectors.
The Head of State lamented that instead of TADB lending the funds to farmers, it loaned Sh95 billion to borrowers who were not involved in agriculture in any serious way.
As if that were not bad enough, President Magufuli added, the bank went on from January to December 2017 to lend Sh82.3 billion to other financial institutions, purchase Treasury bonds worth Sh3 billion and paid Sh9.2 billion to investment banks.
"Despite all this, the bank's executive director is still in office. The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Tanzania haven't taken any action," he said, and vowed to closely monitor the bank's day-to-day operations.
Dr Magufuli also challenged other financial institutions to take up funding for agricultural activities as a matter of course
Earlier, Agriculture minister Charles Tizeba said the Sh13.8 trillion ASDP II would be funded by the government by 40 per cent, while the private sector and development partners would cover the remaining 60 per cent. In the next financial year that begins on July 1, 2018, the government will disburse Sh943 billion, while the private sector and development partners have committed to shelling out Sh1.2 trillion.
Programme coordinator January Raymond Kayumbe said the plan would take ten years to implement. The first phase starts in the 2018/19 financial year and will end in 2023/24.
"We expect that the programme will facilitate the annual growth of agriculture from 3.7 to six per cent, and boost food security in the country to at least 130 per cent from the current 123 per cent," Mr Kayumbe said.
Expressing hope that cash crop production and the use of artificial dissemination would go up in the next five years, the coordinator added that the programme covers four key areas, namely sustainable supervision of water and land; profit maximisation; markets improvement and formulation of conducive policies.
For his part, the official representative of agricultural stakeholders, Mr Magembe Makoye, said they expected the government's efforts to stimulate investment in the sector.
He also requested the government to ensure that modern agriculture inputs were readily accessible to farmers.
"We recognise and appreciate the government's efforts in improving infrastructure which support growth of agriculture. However, all these will be meaningless if farmers and pastoralists don't access the right inputs such as seeds, equipment, fertiliser and biotechnologies at the right time," Mr Makoye said.