By Aliga Issah
In a bid to accelerate financial literacy and inclusion among barley farmers in Kabale and Rubanda Districts, Nile Breweries Limited (NBL) has equipped over 1,000 farmers in the region with financial literacy skills.
The training carried out under the theme “Financial Empowerment of Farmers” has seen farmers across Kabale and Rubanda districts undergo training in financial planning, budgeting, investment, bookkeeping and saving and credit management skills to enable them to manage and grow their farming businesses.
Speaking during the training, Emmanuel Njuki, the Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs at NBL noted that the training is part of the brewery’s objective to improve the farmer’s standard of living.
“We depend 100% on the farmers for barley, by financially empowering our farmers, we want to ensure that the crop is profitable for them and that the proceeds are well invested,” Njuki said.
“Empowering them with financial skills such as budgeting, investments and how to access credit ensures that they are better placed to access better financing to grow their farming businesses.”
Nile Breweries uses homegrown barley, sorghum, maize, and cassava to brew its beers.
Currently, the brewer has contracted 25,000 farmers (15,000 for barley and 10,000 for sorghum) in Northern, Eastern and South-Western Uganda.
According to Njuki, the brewery purchases produce worth shs109.3 billion annually from local farmers.
One of the biggest challenges facing majority of smallholder farmers is lack of access to credit facilities.
Bob Mutegeki the NBL Agriculturist Team Leader- South Western region noted that the financial literacy training is also geared towards ensuring that the farmers have increased access to credit facilities.
“We work with over 1,800 farmers in South Western region Kabale, Rubanda, Kanungu and Kisoro Districts who supply barley to the brewery. We have helped the farmers in this region form Village Savings and Loan Associations and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) and linked them to banks to access credit facilities,” Mutegeki noted.
“The farmers are using these savings groups to borrow loans among themselves at affordable interest rates.”
During the event, farmers raised concerns over the quality of seeds that are being affected by changing weather patterns.
“We are looking at introducing new seed varieties that are more resistant to extreme weather conditions such as drought and heavy rains to help farmers overcome this challenge, harvest improved quality and realise increased yields,” said Njuki
According to Njuki, 100 percent of the brewery’s raw material is locally produced.
“Our intention is to support local farmers in Uganda by creating a ready market for their produce. Our agriculture sustainability goal is to have 100 percent of our direct farmers skilled, connected and financially empowered by 2025.”
During the training, Nile Breweries provided farmers with knapsack sprayers and protective gear like gumboots and overalls to help improve the quality and quantity of barley production.