By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja – The challenge of access to funding by women in Agribusiness will soon be a thing of the past as the Nigeria Agribusiness Register is partnering stakeholders to discuss practicable means of accessing credit facilities.
The Project Coordinator of the Nigeria Agribusiness Register, Mr Odiba Nathanial, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), in Abuja on Thursday.
Nathaniel said that the organisation had hosted a maiden edition of Women in Agribusiness Networking Summit to find solution to the problem of funding which was militating against women in agribusiness in the country.
According to him, the summit, with the theme: “Bridging the Gender Gap in the Agricultural Landscape”, examined ways to link agribusiness promoters with farmers and other stakeholders for affordable funding, among others.
“We are creating a platform to see how we can link agribusiness project promoters for affordable funding, to boost domestic and export market and technical support for agro business to thrive and create more jobs for the Nigerian population.”
He said that the organisation was keen about their projects having impact on the primary beneficiaries.
“We are tired of people attending events and they do not have any development impact.
“So, this is our strategy, we do not want people to talk and nothing happens. We have decided to create a solution to funding which is one big challenge agribusiness project promoters face.
“We are going to set up a steering committee that will follow up and develop a strategy that will actualise the women agribusiness fund.”
In a separate interview, Ms Ana Vinambres, Senior Adviser on Innovative Financial Services for Value Chains, from Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbgarment(GIZ), a German corporation, said that it was focusing on four value chains in Nigeria.
According to him, the corporation is focusing on increasing competitiveness in tomato, ginger, chili, leather and garment value chains.
She further said that the corporation was focusing on three major pillars – the technical pillar, the pillar that focused on policies, and access to finance.
Vinambres said that women were at the core of their intervention, adding that “we have done a specific gender analysis to identify the gaps and challenges that women in Agriculture in Nigeria face.
“The major challenges include social factors, cultural aspects and low literacy rate. We are trying to propose mitigation factors.
“For example, in many cases women do not have an ID card and may not be able to open a bank account.
“So, we are trying to encourage the financial institutions to reduce their requirement and we are also trying to contemplate different options for collateral.
“Like right now in Nigeria, there is collateral registry where movable assets may be registered.
“Women may not own land but maybe they own movable assets that can be registered,” she said.
Dr Yusuf Mohammed, who was the guest lecturer at the event, spoke to NAN on agribusiness financing, challenges and the way forward, and declared that ensuring access to financing was key to agricultural development in the country and should be taken seriously.
According to him, rather than focus on the traditional lending system, it is high time alternative means of accessing funding without collateral was promoted.
“We want to look at why banks are not willing to give loan to farmers.
“First of all is the issue of transaction. Most agricultural financing is in the rural areas and most banks do not have branches in all these places.
“Also, most farmers are not organised, they need to come out in group or cooperatives, to make it more viable for banks.
“The issue of collateral is another concern. We need to develop alternative creative productions like warehousing financing and a host of others outside the traditional collateral system.
“Regulation is also another issue because if you give your money to someone and he defaults, he will boldly challenge you to take him to court because he knows that the matter will be in court for so many years,” he said.
The Coordinator, National Shea Products Association of Nigeria(NASPAN), Apatira Aderemi, on his part, told NAN that efforts were being put in place by major stakeholders to encourage crowd funding for farmers to be able to pay equity for grants or loans that would be as low as two per cent interest rate.
“With that, more women farmers will be able to access credit to boost production.
“Basically, the credit gap in Africa is large, especially for women businesses. That is why gender is big business but it is also the investors dream if we create the enabling environment.
“Basically, women in agriculture occupy about 15.6 billion dollars annually of credit space and that is a business opportunity.
“We are looking at how to bring the kind of investors that are not expecting as high as 20 per cent interest rate.
“We are looking at investors that are willing to do five years with just two or three per cent per annum.”