AKILIMO, an agronomy advisory tool for cassava farming, will be an integral part of the new program by the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank and National Microfinance Bank to finance cassava farmers in Tanzania. The banks have collaboratively issued a loan facility worth US $1.3 million for 421 cassava farmers affiliated to 43 farmers groups in Handeni district, Tanga region.

Under the facility, a farmer receives about USD 200 per acre of cassava (minimum 1 acre and maximum 3 acres). The rest of the monies will be spent on the groups’ specific needs, largely processing equipment (solar driers, cassava slicers among others); and to some groups, it will involve the purchase of tractors.

All recipients of the loan facility will receive training on the use of AKILIMO decision support tools and application of the agronomic recommendations provided by the tools. The program was launched in Handeni on 17th June at an event graced by representatives from partnering organizations, government agencies and private sector players.

ACAI project coordinator for Tanzania, Dr Frederick Baijukya highlighted the importance of AKILIMO recommendations in cassava cultivation. Dr Baijukya assured stakeholders of continued support from ACAI and IITA in providing agronomy advice and making the relevant technologies available for farmers to use.

“We are hoping that using new technologies farmers will increase their production and as a result income and be able to meet the loan obligations,” Dr Baijukya said.

The farmers and bank officials who attended the event were introduced to the various formats of AKILIMO tools that they would be interacting with in the coming days. ACAI will organize training sessions with government-affiliated extension agents to prepare the farmers for the planting season.

Among those partnering in the program include farmer groups from Handeni district, National Microfinance Bank, Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), World vision, Tanzania Cassava Producers and Processors Association (TACCAPA), Cassava Seed Growers Association (CSGA), Kilimo joint, and IITA.