Food security: FG, IFAD-VCDP strategise to boost rural farmers’ access to fund

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The FGN/IFAD Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has organised a capacity building workshop on technical support to enable rural farmers have access to credit facilities.

The National Programme Coordinator, IFAD-VCDP, Alhaji Garba Bala, said the workshop was to provide technical assistance support to selected financial institutions and other value chain actors.

Represented by Mr Seriki Abayomi, the National Rural Finance Officer IFAD-VCDP, Bala said the participants were agric business officers and CEOs of financial and insurance services providers, offtakers, aggregators among others, from Kogi, Niger and Ogun.

He said 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.

Bala noted 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.

This, he said, would help in the implementation of development programmes as an effective strategy for achieving economic growth and food security in Nigeria.

According to him, the strategy involves issues relating to savings, credit payments and agricultural insurance currently features prominently at various national and regional 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.

“This is what informed the organization and conduct of this important workshop by the FGN/IFAD VCDP,”  he said.

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

“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.

Speaking, Dr 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% while we give certain percentage of 60 or 70 per cent depending on their group categories, to be able to access the grant.

“But the 30 per cent farmers are expected to contribute is still a huge challenge.

“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 said.

Adejoh stressed that even after the exit of the Programme from Nigeria, farmers could still leverage on the existing relationship with the financial institutions.

She added that farmers had been trained to have a saving culture over time so that they don’t have to be dependent on financial institutions.

“The farmers will also know how to work with financial 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, Mr Ariyo Olanrewaju, said the training would ensure that 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,” he said.

Two Participants, Kudirat Yusuf, Agricultural Development Finance, Jaiz Bank, Abuja, and Mr Fasasi Sarafadeen, Managing Director, Ecosystem Financial Service Aggregators, said the workshop had enlightened them about IFAD-VCDP and its grant for farmers especially farm inputs and equipment.

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