ActionAid Nigeria has appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and financial institutions to scale up the provision of loan facilities to women farmers, who have been described as making up 60 per cent of players in the agriculture sector.
ActionAid Food and Agriculture Programme Coordinator, Azubike Nwokoye, made the call during a roundtable on access to agricultural credit for smallholder women farmers.
He said poor access to credit has impeded the productivity of women farmers who are major drivers of the sector. He also said it had become imperative to call on the Federal Government to consider policies that would ameliorate the challenges experienced by women farmers.
According to him, the CBN, Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry and commercial banks must pay attention to addressing the challenge of poverty reduction in the country.
He said: “That is why one of the strong recommendations is that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the State Ministry of Agriculture should create a budget plan, a yearly budget plan on strengthening access to credit.
“The yearly budget will help. If it is consultants that FMARD will get to support different women cooperatives to be able to access the available funding. The process will ensure that other services will be accessed, given the right support. They should be able to pay on time.
“Due to the security situation in the country and even issues of climate change, paying back the loan could be difficult. That is why we mentioned agricultural insurance to go hand-in-hand with the credit facilities.”
Women farmers under the auspices of the Small Scale Women’s Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) have expressed frustration over the high cost of credits.
Secretary of the organisation, Nnanna Mercy, called on the Federal Government to be gender-sensitive in designing financial programmes that would make women farmers have easy access to loans.
“For farming activities, it has been good and bad. For every woman, especially in accessing agricultural loans, it is very difficult. Government as you know is business-oriented and as you know is not favourable to rural women. The way it is designed makes it difficult for the average woman-farmer to access.
“The government finances are mostly accessed by portfolio farmers, political farmers, because when you design a program for rural women and you are telling them to bring a level 14 officer as a guarantor, or you are telling them to bring a landed property, these are constraints that are affecting rural women.
“What we are saying is that we should be gender-sensitive in designing our financial program, owing to all these constraints that women are suffering, let us streamline it to the womenfolk, in such a way that there should be some kind of understanding”, Mercy added.