The Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) on Wednesday held a breakfast meeting for financiers working in the agricultural sector to provide funding for smallholder rice farmers.
Dr Stefan Kachelriess-Matthess, CARI’s Programme Director, said in Abuja that the meeting presented an avenue to discuss ways of promoting CARI perspectives and objectives on access to finance.
“Our mandate at CARI is to facilitate access to finance for our smallholder farmers and that is what informed today’s gathering.
“We have been doing this but we decided to take it more strongly now so as to see how actors across the rice value chain could have a better way to finance or promote access to finance.
“This is the first meeting we are having this year and it is like a trial meeting.
“We want to hold this breakfast meeting quarterly, so as to enable stakeholders to gather, discuss and update themselves on how to access to finance.
“This will, however, go a long way to address some of the challenges facing farmers in terms of access to finance so as to boost their production and livelihoods,” he said.
Kachelriess-Matthess said that CARI was a regional programme involving Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania, and executed under the aegis German Development Cooperation (GIZ).
“CARI is launched by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“CARI seeks to significantly improve the livelihoods of smallholder rice farmers in Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania by increasing the competitiveness of domestic rice production and processing to meet the increasing demand.
“The principal aim is to address coordination failures; create better linkages among rice value chain actors and as a result, increase the expected economic returns of all stakeholders.
“The programme started in October 2013 and runs until June 2018, with a perspective for a following phase until June 2021,” he added.
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Speaking, Mr Farouk Kurawa, Assistant General Manager, Agricultural Value Chain Development and Services (NIRSAL), said that several programmes were currently executed for smallholder farmers through his office.
He, however, advised farmers, especially smallholders, to make use of this window so as to expand their production and boost the nation’s revenue.
Also speaking, Dr Mudashir Olaitan, Director, Development Finance Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said that the bank had initiated many initiatives which cut across the value chain.
“We are looking at smallholder farmers as well as the medium and large scale farmers. But we are focusing more attention on smallholder farmers because they form 70 per cent of the total farmer population in the country.
“I am sure that you can testify that the Federal Government has done so well in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which was particularly targeted at rice farmers; the scheme has significantly increased rice production in the country,’’ he said.
Dignitaries that the attended the breakfast meeting include directors of CBN, Jaiz Bank Plc., Union Bank Plc. and First City Monument Bank (FCMB).