Ameir’s Quest to Reclaim Zanzibar’s Glory as the Spice Island.
One Man's vision to restore Zanzibar's glory as the spice island.
“I do really appreciate the financing facility I have obtained from Amana Bank. My farm in Kibele Unguja now generates more income than what I was getting as salary during my employment as a civil servant."
A renowned world tourist destination, once famously referred to as Spice Island, today, Zanzibar Island imports 80% of its horticultural products, including fruits and spices.
Mr. Sharji Shaaban Ameir, a resident of Kibele in Zanzibar, is on a mission to ‘Ring a bell’.
With a loan from Amana Bank under the bank’s credit guarantee agreement with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Mr. Amier transformed 10-hectares of empty arable land into a productive Agricultural Center, which now provides direct jobs for 10 youths and generates a monthly income of 3 million Tanzanian Shillings (TZS). For Mr. Ameir, a retired government official who had struggled for years to secure financing for his farm's development, this accomplishment marks a significant leap forward and enables him to generate sufficient income, covering his expenses beyond his monthly pension receipts.
Getting loans from banks was challenging due to unstable collateral, not enough security (120% or more) to back it up, and agriculture being risky due to climate change effects. The agricultural production cycle also made paying back loans trickier compared to monthly repayments in other businesses.
“I have now applied for a TZS 20,000,000/- financing facility for an irrigation scheme installation to add more value and reduce dependence on rain to a ratio of 10% compared to 90% before the facility. Also, the additional financing will help to erect a fence that will protect the farm from thieves.”
Before obtaining funding from Amana Bank, the revenue generated from Shariji’s farm was less than TZS 30,000 per day and he was required to be present at farm all day without any employee to assist. Now the farm has 10 employees who each earn TZS 100,000/- on average and get their daily food like fish, fruits, and vegetables directly from the farm. 30 villagers around Kibele farm also benefit from the farm by getting their daily variety of vegetables, spices, and fruits at low prices compared to the market price.
About 2% of Mwanakwerekwe’s market supply of products like vegetables, fruits, spices, tilapia fish and broiler chicken are sourced from Kibele farm in Zanzibar, this reduces the cost of importation from Tanzania mainland and hence a reduction in the price of the products.
“Vendors are coming here directly to collect vegetables, ready-made packed chicken, fruits mostly pawpaw, passion fruit, and tomatoes. Due to the different areas of production, I have encouraged and inspired others to farm and then access financing from Amana Bank.’’
We also established fertilizer manufacturing and sell to other farmers and offer some for free to villagers. I have inspired many people who have started to engage in agricultural activities.
“Earning a livelihood from agriculture seemed to be for people of the lower class in society here in Zanzibar but now people of all levels are looking to engage in agriculture, including those who have been inspired by me”.
Amana Bank in Zanzibar has teamed up with the Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA). Starting in March 2023, they began training batches of 50 farmers as part of this collaboration, with a goal of training 100 farmers monthly. This partnership aims to speed up and reach more people involved in Agriculture and seeking financial support in Zanzibar. The aspiration is for Zanzibar to not only be known as a tourist spot but also a thriving hub for horticultural activities. The goal is for Zanzibar to produce 20% of its agricultural needs independently. This alliance anticipates reaching 3600 farmers over three years by updating the Agri Policy and utilizing the expertise of Amana Bank’s newly appointed Agricultural Manager. With a growing demand for agricultural products, particularly by households and tourist hotels, there's a clear need for Amana Bank to boost its funding for this sector in Zanzibar.
“I do involve myself in the daily activities of the farm, it helps me stay on top of the business and know well how to manage the farm’’