To enhance Agro business in Nigeria, Commercial Banks must give loans to farmers for commercial production.
This charge came from the Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending, NIRSAL during a sensitisation campaign for operators in the Agric Value Chain system held in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
The Head of the Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remedian Office of NIRSAL in Osogbo, Mr Yemi Akande said it would be difficult for Nigeria to achieve food sufficiency, stimulate an Agro allied industrial economy, guarantee Agro based foreign exchange and produce millionaire farmers if banks refused to give facility to operators in Agric value chain.
Mr Akande noted that the major fear expressed by commercial Banks in granting loans to farmers was the risk involved in Agro financing as change in yield and other challenges could impede the capacity of farmers to refund loans, thereby creating problems for the lenders.
The NIRSAL official explained that to mitigate this obvious challenge, the Federal government, through the CBN established the agency to bear 75% of risk previously borne by the Banks in Agric lending; hence the lenders should have little or no worry.
He also explained that in order to minimize the risk and limitations of farmers, which affected their production and capacity to return profit on their investment, NIRSAL would also train the operators on new skills and modern tools in Agric business.
In a remark, a facilitator and the manager of the Osogbo branch of Bank of Agric Mr Ojo Faniyi, identified inconsistency in government Agriculture and financial policy as the bane of Agricultual production in Nigeria.
According to him, “Green Revolution” was introduced but abandoned halfway; Operation Feed the Nation went same way, so also other policies. Since government is continuous, successive governments should implement policies they meet in on ground.
Mr Faniyi also maintained that if the right skills, tools and enabling environment were available, Nigeria would not need 75% of its populace involved in farming.
Some of the operators of the Agric value chain, including farmers, input suppliers, processors and marketers spoke about the practical challenges confronting the value chain of Agric production.
Prominent among the challenges are access to finance, skilled Labour and most importantly inaccessibility of roads.
An input supplier, Hajia Olabode Monsurat said it was always difficult to transport inputs to the farmers, due to the deplorable state of rural roads, where they existed at all, while many do not have accessible roads.
An Extension Officer, Mr Adedokun Isaiah described the greatest limitation as the skill-gap among the primary producer farmers, which often resulted in annual low yield.
The participants appealed to state governments to support the effort of the Federal Government by facilitating the training of farmers at the local level on Innovation in farming and Agriculture Entrepreneurship.