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Experts decry difficulties in accessing intervention funds, commercial loans

By Gordi Udeajah, Umuahia
12 May 2022   |   3:55 am
Participants and stakeholders on the innovative platform for cassava stakeholders, organised by the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, Abia State, ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System in Nigeria...

Participants and stakeholders on the innovative platform for cassava stakeholders, organised by the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, Abia State, ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System in Nigeria, (BASICS -11 Phase II), have observed that though finance is very important in agriculture, there are difficulties in accessing various intervention funds in the country.

The participants at the meeting, which also featured cassava seed entrepreneurs’ refresher training, brainstormed on building linkages, synergy, continuous collaboration with actors, identifying strengths and weaknesses within the cassava seed value chain, including the non-inclusion of land clearing (which they noted as a major cost of production) in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

They highlighted the extremely low agricultural extension services in Nigeria, impact of the Russian-Ukraine war on agriculture in Nigeria, (specifically the astronomical increase in the cost of fertiliser), noting that with the crisis in Ukraine which is a major producer and exporter of urea, there are adulteration and sometimes wrong formulation of fertiliser.

Others policy inconsistencies they listed were weak linkages and poor coordination among researchers, extension experts and farmers with inadequate and untimely release of funds.

The participants emphasised the need to re-access the conditions attached to accessing loans, especially the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of CBN, because of the ecological differences among regions.

“Land clearing should be included in the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to benefit especially farmers in the south, as same principles as applied to farmers in the north may not work in the south,’’ a communique after the meeting stated.

They also recommended more inclusion of female farmrs in the programmes since thay form the majority of the farming population in Nigeria and that the Micro Intervention Funds meant for women businesses should be more functional.