• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Food Security: FG partners groups to improve rural farmers’ access to finance

Food security: Group wants 10% allocation to agric sector

 

A two-day capacity building workshop on technical assistance and support to financial suppliers and other value chain actors to enable rural farmers have improved access to credit facility has been organised by the FGN/IFAD Value Chain Development Programme (BCDP).

Garba Bala, the National Programme Coordinator, IFAD-VCDP, disclosed that the objective of the workshop was to provide technical support to selected financial institutions and other value chain actors.

Represented by Seriki Musa Abayomi, the National Rural Finance Officer IFAD-VCDP, said the participants were Agric business officers and CEOs of financial and insurance services providers, off-takers, aggregators, among others, from Kogi, Niger and Ogun States, adding that the workshop was aimed at enhancing financial inclusiveness of VCDP beneficiaries engaged in various programme activities along the rice and cassava value chain in the VCDP participating states.

He pointed out that the workshop was coming at a time when governments, donors and development partners were increasingly recognising the importance and benefits of mainstreaming financial inclusion, adding that this would help in the implementation of development programmes as an effective strategy for achieving economic growth and food security in Nigeria

“The strategy involves issues relating to savings, credit payments and agricultural insurance currently features prominently at various national and regional fora with a view to deepening the institutionalisation of the concept in development work.

”The institutional arrangement for the implementation of the financial inclusion strategy is relatively new, complex and not fully understood.

”The continuous training, sensitisation and capacity building of all concerned value chain actors and programme beneficiaries need to be vigorously pursued to domesticate this important concept,” he said.

According to Bala, ”This is what informed the organisation and conduct of this important workshop by the FGN/IFAD VCDP.”

He equally emphasised that the management of VCDP fully recognises the importance of financial inclusion in facilitating sustainable access to financial services by the programme beneficiaries, particularly the youth and women.

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”The buy in and contributions by all participants will enhance their confidence and encourage signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) of business relationships with VCDP.

”The workshop would further promote the recognition and advancement of financial inclusion mainstreaming in the implementation of IFAD-assisted developmental programmes in Nigeria,” he said.

Stella Adejoh, the State Programme Coordinator, FGN/IFAD-VCDP, noted that farmers, especially the small holders farmers, had always been having difficulties in accessing credit for their farming activities.

”In the rice and cassava value chain that we support, farmers are expected to pay the marching grant of 30 to 40 percent while we give certain percentage of 60 or 70percent depending on their group categories, to be able to access the grant. But the 30percent farmers are expected to contribute is still a huge challenge,” Adejoh said.

”So, this workshop has brought in different stakeholders from financial institutions to train them on how they can work with our farmers and provide assistance to them in a sustainable manner,” she added.

Adejoh stressed that even after the end of the programme in Nigeria, farmers could still leverage on the existing relationship with the financial institutions, adding that farmers have been trained to have a saving culture over time so that they do not have to be dependent on financial institutions.

”The farmers will also know how to work with the FINA institutions as well as insurance companies so as to insure their farms and processing facilities against natural disaster as the case may be,” she said.

The Lead Consultant IFAD/VCDP Project, Ariyo Olanrewaju, and the team were in Kogi to facilitate and ensure that the financial institutions and farmers come to a level where both understand their various needs.

”We realised that as a value chain project, its weak point is access to finance. So, it is important that stakeholders meet together to understand the agricultural value chain and the agricultural financial value chain.

Olanrewaju expressed satisfaction with the level of response and engagement from the participants.

Reuben Joshua, the Rural Finance Officer, Kogi iFAD-VCDP, said the workshop would go a long way in adding value to agricultural chains from production to processing and marketing to create employment and ensure food security.

In their separate comments, two Participants, Kudirat Yusuf, Agricultural Development Finance Department, Jaiz Bank, Abuja, and Fasasi Sarafadeen, the managing director, Ecosystem Financial Service Aggregators, said the workshop had been very interactive and engaging, adding that they had been able to discover many things they did not know concerning VCDP and their grants for farmers, especially the farm equipment.

They promised to go back to their various financial institutions to restrategise and ensure that the farmers get improved access to finance in collaboration with VCDP.