BASICS-II: Experts Review Strengths, Weaknesses of Accessing Credit/Intervention Funds for Cassava Farmers

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BASICS-II: Experts review strengths, Weaknesses of accessing credit/intervention funds for farmers

Experts from the agricultural and finance sectors, research institutions and agricultural extensions services have emphasized the need to review the conditionalities and laws regulating accessing of credit facilities for farmers, especially the Anchor Borrowers Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The experts who converged at the ‘Innovative Platform for Cassava Stakeholders, BASICS-II (Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System in Nigeria, Phase II) Cassava Seed Enterpreneurs Refresher Training’ organised by the National Root Crops Research Institute, NRCRI, Umudike, Abia State on April 27, 2023 focused and reviewed issues on building linkages, synergy, continuous collaboration with actors, strengths and weaknesses within the cassava seed value chain.

The participants at the meeting emphasized that finance is very important in agriculture, as they highlighted difficulties in assessing and processing loans/intervention funds available at CBN and commercial banks.

Also highlighted was the extremely low Extension Services and Delivery in Nigeria, impact of the Ukraine/Russian Crisis on agriculture in Nigeria (specifically, the astronomical increase in the cost of fertilizer, Ukraine being a major producer and exporter of urea) and adulteration and sometimes wrong formulation of Fertilizers.

They further deliberated on issues like policy inconsistencies, weak linkages and poor coordination among research, extension, and farmers with inadequate and untimely release of funds.

Rising from their deliberations the stakeholders in a communique amongst others, recommended that land clearing should be included in the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme to benefit farmers in the South as same principles as applied to farmers in the North may not work in the South.

They maintained that the Anchor Borrowers scheme favours large scale farmers to the detriment of smallholding farmers and recommended that commercial banks should be made to operate the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme to reach more smallholding farmers. Accordingly, the National Assembly should be beckoned on to review the Act establishing the scheme, they recommended

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Other recommendation proffered included the inclusion of more female targeted programmes since women form the bulk of the farming population in Nigeria, and stressed that the Micro Intervention fund of 60% meant for Women Businesses should be more functional.

Furthermore, they recommended the following: Increased sensitization of the farming population on all the CBN/Commercial Banks programmes and Interventions; CBN/NRCRI partnership to interface with Seed Enterpreneurs.

According to one of the participating banks, the Zenith Bank plc argued that it could no longer accommodate getting fund in short term basis and giving out loans on long term basis. It suggested that the Government serve as guarantors to farmers and CSEs.

The participants further raised the need for financial institutions to set aside some of their bank charges to fund Agriculture and for dedicated customers to be given special concessions

They also urged management of banks to properly analyse farmers circumstances and amend their conditionalities for giving loans.

The participants noted that with the staggering increase in input prices, there is need to subsidize inputs, pointing out that the cost of a 50kg bag of fertilizer now ranges from N20,000-N30,000 which is outside the reach of farmers.

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Accordingly, they recommended that CSEs should buy fertilizers and agrochemicals from reliable and good sources, and that BASICS-II be encouraged to request for real fertilizer for CSEs through NRCRI and IITA at distribution prices from the blenders in Nigeria notably Indorama, Notore and Dangote.

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Also proposed in the communique is that more farmers, processors and marketers be encouraged to form groups (cooperatives), and clusters to enhance access to credit and mitigate the transaction costs of moving seed to the off-takers; Also recommended include restructuring the Research Extension Farmer Input Linkage System to enhance access to service delivery of Extension Agents.

Present at the meeting include Extension personnels from the Agricultural Daevelopment Programmes (ADPs); CSEs (Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs); Scientists; Input dealers; Processors; Credit Agencies/Banks; Farmers and other stakeholders.

Also in attendance includes Dr. G. N. Asumugha, Dr. T. U. Madu and Dr. J. Onyeka, Dr Olojede (Directors of NRCRI), Dr Joel Omeke, Director, National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) of ABU South East Zonal Office (representing NAERLS), Eze Dr. Philip Ajomiwe, (SME Owner), and Assistant Directors from NRCRI.

Dr Godwin N. Asumugha, the training Coordinator presented the welcome address

Dr. Godwin Asumugha
Dr. Godwin Asumugha

while Dr J. Onyeka (PI BASICS-II NRCRI) and Dr. Lateef Sanni (PM, BASICS-II) presented goodwill messages.

Dr. Godwin Asumugha
Dr. Godwin Asumugha

Meanwhile, Dr Aster Godwin and Team from IITA and others participated via Zoom.

Speakers at the event include: Director Finance Office, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Umuahia (presentation on Intervention Funds by CBN and Access); Programme Manager Abia ADP (On Fertilizer Distribution, Access and Management); Zenith Bank (Access to Loans & Credits);

Others are: General Manager, Renascent Agro processing Factory Ltd. (Quality Standards for Seed and Roots and Offtake by Processors in a Cluster), Rev. Fr. Onyemachi, National Secretary of National Association of Cassava Seed Enterpreneurs of Nigeria (NACSEN) (On Best Practices for Enhanced Seed Productivity among CSEs and Capacity Streghtening of SENs), and Dr Mrs Amajuoyi, Agro Dealer (Importance of Herbicides in decreased cost of production and drudgery).

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