Akokwa (Owerri) – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has urged Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) to increase lending facilities to rural dwellers to boost the nation’s agricultural production.
IFAD’s Country Programme Manager, Dr Atsuko Toda, gave the advice in Akokwa, near Owerri on Monday during the Supervision Mission of Rural Finance Institution (RUFIN) Building programme.
While noting that one major problem being encountered by farmers was access to credit facilities, Toda asserted that the primary goal of RUFIN programme was to ensure sustainable credit access structure for rural dwellers.
Toda explained that the programme intended to achieve its goal using informal village savings group formation methodology and linking them to formal MFIs to access credits without collaterals.
The programme manager applauded Akokwa Micro Finance Bank for taking the lead in reaching out to rural dwellers and making credits available to them.
Toda, who described the bank as a ‘model for all micro finance institutions to emulate,’ said it was playing a great role in solving the problem of access to credit in rural areas.
Earlier, the Managing Director, Akokwa Micro Finance Bank, Mr Uche Ikemefuna, said the bank had benefited a lot from RUFIN’s capacity building workshop.
He said RUFIN had changed bank’s mindset on rural lending, adding that they were ready to lend more money to rural dwellers as they are more trustworthy.
According to him, we use to think that lending money to rural people is not profitable nor is it safe, but we now have a different mindset.
“We have formed four village savings and credit groups on our own and we have disbursed about one million naira.
“We are looking at forming 15 groups in 2016 but reaching deep into rural areas is very difficult because of the bad access roads,” he said.
Ikemefuna advised the operators of the programme to facilitate development of access roads to rural areas, stressing that this would boost financial inclusion and curb post-harvest losses.
He urged the programme operators to make motor cycles available to them as short-term solution to accessing rural areas.
NAN reports that RUFIN is a seven-year agreement programme between the Federal Government and IFAD, being implemented in 12 states, two from each geo-political zone across the country. (NAN)