By Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
Smallholder farmers in Kwara State lack accessibility to government supported agricultural credit services.
This was contained in a community scorecard of the participatory valuation by ActionAid Nigeria carried out recently in seven states and the FCT as part of its Public Financing Assessment (PFA).
The PFA is aimed at strengthening the capacity of farmers federations and women organisations, enabling them to engage directly with government agencies and institutions for effective agric budget allocations and utilization that favours smallholder women farmers.
Giving analysis of the report in Ilorin recently, the state Coordinator of Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE), Mr. Akindele Ayuba, noted that while the state government accessed N3.3bn Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) a huge number of farmers in general did not benefit from the fund.
Ayuba decried the poor financing of smallholder women farmers in particular, who according to him, dominate the agriculture sector.
He explained that though farmers in the state are fully aware of the agricultural credit schemes, the process of accessing are cumbersome just as it is not affordable to them.
Other challenges include, non-involvement of the smallholder farmers in the development and the implementation of government supported agric-credit services, inadequacy of the loan and its un-timeliness.
He stressed that because the loan do not get to the farmers on time, they do not use it for the purpose it is meant for, adding that those that could access the loan do not enjoy other support services.
Ayuba, however, decried bias in the accessibility of loan schemes by women smallholder farmers in favour of male farmers in Nigeria.
“Even though it is known fact that smallholder farmes in Nigeria are mostly women farmers, their access to agricultural credit remains limited. For instance, only few of them that have been operating for more than three decades were able to access agric-credit .
“And, the inability of female smallholder farmers to access agric-credit could significantly hinder the Federal Government’s effort to improve agricultural productivity and food security in the country.”
For better agric financing, he suggested government should aggressively continue to persuade and encourage the formal banking sector with favourable policies, incentives and initiatives to direct both human and financial resources to harnessing huge business opportunity of providing agricultural credit to smallholder farmers.
He also called for involvement of smallholder women farmer organisations and Civil Society Organisations in the development and implementation of government supported agricultural credit initiatives.
In his remarks, the Director of Engineering and Services, Kwara State Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed said the administration Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed place premium on development of the agriculture sector.
Towards this end, he disclosed that the state government has made available equipment at subsided rate to farmers, through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
He further disclosed that the state would soon become a rice-producing hub in the north central zone, adding that 50 hectares of improved rice are about to be harvested in Shonga, Edu Local Government Area of the state.