On the 18th of March 2014, HEDA Resource Centre organised a one day Seminar on helping smallholders access grants and loan. It was held at the Lagos Travel Inn Ikeja, bringing together all related stakeholders including smallholders themselves, AGROPRENEUR Nigeria was opportune to be part of it. Below is the official communique of the seminar.
1. The Seminar had in attendance cross section of farmers associations, individual farmers, agricultural researchers, representatives of relevant government agencies, agricultural financing institutions, agricultural support service organizations, CSO advocacy groups, etc.
2. The key speaker acknowledged that Nigerian agric sector is yet to fulfill its key objectives of food production and security, employment creation and wealth generation because small scale farmers have been neglected by agric agencies of governments at all levels
3. Often times government’s agric policies target large scale farmers whose products are largely exported unlike small scale farmers whose products are largely consumed locally. Small scale farmers represent 90% of farming population and they produce 80% of the gross domestic food production.
4. Small scale farmers are often over-shadowed by “political farmers” in their quest to access government grants, credits and support programmes.
5. Speakers at the seminar identified key challenges faced by small scale farmers including:
(a) Small scale farmers lack adequate access to agric grants and credit. The credits are often issued on very high interests.
(b) They lack adequate access to information about beneficial government policies and programmes
(c) Small scale farmers lack capacity to use effective and modern management techniques in running profitable farms and agric businesses.
(d) Cooperative associations of small scale farmers are often threatened by leadership crises
(e) Challenges of corruption, lack of transparency, etc threaten access of small scale farmers to credit and other opportunities.
(f) Youths and women face the challenges of low interest and motivation, exclusion and limited access to participate in small scale farming
6. Participants raised the following recommendations:
(a) Small scale farmers should strengthen their cooperative groups to engage with government and other stakeholders including agric financing institutions
(b) Women and youths should be encouraged to participate in small scale farming as a means of overcoming challenges of unemployment
(c) Channels of information dissemination and communication between small scale farmers, government and financing institutions should be strengthened.
(d) Interests rates charged on agric credits as well as the procedures of accessing them should be liberalized.
(e) Effective collaboration between farmers, government, financing agencies, CSOs and other development partners should be strengthened to facilitate better productivity of the agric sector as a whole.