Trade Initiative Network, other stakeholders, and farmers under the auspices of the Federation of Agricultural Commodities of Nigeria (FACAN) have expressed worry over the high interest rate on the Nigerian Insurance Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) credit scheme.
They lamented that despite the lofty objectives of NIRSAL, and the interest rate draw back, small scale farmers may not be able to access the funds because of the double digit interest rate adding that the operational guidelines put in place by NIRSAL was only good on paper but the workability may not be feasible.
The stakeholders are concerned that due to the bias by commercial banks towards farmers banks usually delay in processing their loan resulting in untimely disbursement of the facility and the eventual diversion of the loan by farmers.
Speaking during a one-day stakeholder consultation on increasing small holder farmers access to credit, the National Program Coordinator of Trade Network Initiative Chris Kaka said “no farmer given loan at a double digit interest rate rate would be able to make return and go home happy”.
He observed that overtime the agriculture sector had never lacked intervention funds, but unfortunately small holder farmers has been lamenting lack of access to credit.
Kaka further lamented the level of awareness of the credit facilities amongst smallholder famers as only the elites and leaders of farmers organization are aware of the scheme, stressing the need for proper channelling of the information down to the grassroots.
The program coordinator further noted that farm inputs provided to farmers under the Anchor Borrower Scheme are over invoiced when compared to the price at the open market stressing the need for the Central Bank to address the issue.
An official of FACAN Tunde Bakare attributed the inability of farmers to access credit facilities to the fact that they are not carried along in the policy formulation, implementation and monitoring of the credit scheme as they usually use the top-bottom approach rather than the bottom-top approach.
The Vice President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria and the National President Potato Growers Association Daniel Okafor lamented that farmers are not carried along in the implementation of the disbursement of the NIRSAL loan.
He said “As of today no member of the association I represent has been able to access the NIRSAL loan except for those who got it on a personal basis”.
He stressed that farmers association needs to be carried along in the disbursement of the loans so as to ensure repayment of the loans.