Finance, insurance dominate cassava seed business summit
Cassava seed producers have raised concerns over their inability to access loans and insurance cover to hedge against risks.
The seed producers spoke at the second edition of the cassava seed business summit organised by the Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) project of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
President of Industrial Cassava Stakeholders Association of Nigeria (ICSAN), Mr. Charles Adeniji, noted that though the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial and microfinance banks have funding programmes, they are usually burdened by administrative and process challenges that make access difficult.
“Generally, financing is available with the CBN. The commercial banks and microfinance banks have intervention funds. But there are barriers to access, high-interest rates, short tenure, and often strident conditions.”
According to the Vice President of the National Association of Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs Network (NACSEN), Dr. Augusta Amajuoyi, poor access to loans was a major challenge for a private sector-led cassava seed system.
“Seed entrepreneurs find it difficult to get loans because of the harsh conditions given by banks requesting collateral and all manner of things. Sometimes, interest rates are up to 28 per cent,” she lamented.
The Summit, themed: “Financing and Insurance Opportunities for the Sustainable Growth of the Cassava Seed System,” was held virtually, with over 130 cassava entrepreneurs and stakeholders in attendance.
Stakeholders underscored the importance of financing and insurance for cassava seed ventures and charged government and finance institutions to address the funding bottlenecks.
In his welcome remarks, the Managing Partner at Sahel Consulting, Temitope Adegoroye, the summit convener and one of the implementing partners of BASICS-II, stated that finance and insurance were crucial for sustainable growth in the cassava seed system.
He called for continuous collaboration of stakeholders in the sector to specifically support and explore financing and insurance opportunities for seed producers within the value chain.
“A sustainable cassava seed system would catalyse the potential of cassava given the country’s status as the highest producer of the crop in the world,” he said.
In the keynote address, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mr Ernest Umakhihe, encouraged seed enterprises to make insurance covers part of their business strategies.
Deputy Director Irrigation, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs Sugra Mahmood, who represented the Permanent Secretary, stressed the need for awareness creation on the business prospects of cassava seed multiplication and the importance of partnerships and collaboration to support the growth of a sustainable cassava seed system.
Acting Executive Director, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Dr Godwin Asumugha; IITA BASICS-II Project Manager, Prof Lateef Sanni; and Zonal Manager of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in Tanzania, Mr Paul Enecko, explained the steps being taken to develop the cassava seed system in Nigeria and Tanzania. Sir.
In his closing remarks, the Director General, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Dr. Phillip Ojo, expressed optimism about the catalysed growth of the cassava value chain.
He solicited the continuous collaboration of stakeholders towards a robust and vibrant seed system.