The Project Manager, Green Innovation Centre under GIZ, Caroline Trimborn spoke to journalists in Abuja last Friday. The center had a five working days workshop for Agricultural Correspondents of Nigeria (ACAN) on Agricultural Production and Processing Economics. The training of journalists was coordinated by GIZ, Nigeria. Tom Okpe was there for the Daily Times.
What’s the aim of this program and what does it translate to farmers?
We want to improve the productivity and income of smallholder farmers in Nigeria, this is one of our objectives and our target is 200, 000 smallholders farmers working in rice, maize, Irish potato and cassava.
We are in Kano and Kaduna for maize, Irish potato for Plateau State, and we do rice in Benue, Nasarawa and Cross River States. We do cassava in Oyo and Ogun States, So we want to improve their income and productivity and what you (journalists) have learnt today will enable you communicate to the farmers at the grassroots.
We are also working with up and down stream companies in these value chains to improve their turnover and employment. So you can see how comprehensive it is as it follows a value chain approach to improve financial value chains in Nigeria.
We have trained roughly 150, 000 smallholder farmers and we have very close monitoring of farmers on the different value chains.
To reach this number is very important and as you can see very large scale approach and we can make that happen because we are working with Agricultural Development Programs, ADPs, we are trying to increase their capacity of state extension agents so that they can deliver trainings and to also guarantee sustainability and institutionalization of different training approaches.
How about the assessment on the 150, 000 trained farmers?
We have different assessments because they are changing like in the different value chains, but generally they have improved their income. For example, in potato, they could double their productivity and generally we have an increase in income along the value chains.
On farmer’s challenges, what is the organization doing to tackle them?
Our major challenges has been always finance, high quality input. For example, you need an improved and quality seeds, which access are difficult generally, another difficulty is to have finance ready.
We are preparing for another agric finance; we are currently working with bank CEOs, which will be ready for agriculture to finance. It is a different sector, you need to have proper understanding of the sector, finance solutions and this is what we are working on.
When will the finance program commence?
We will start our finance program in November 2018. The budget from the green innovation program centre is 17 million Euros until 2022. The program on agric finance is around 3.5 million Euros. What we are looking at is working with banks ready to finance smallholder farmers.
What are the criteria to access the finance?
That really depends on the banks we are working with. So the farmers can access this money, they can access the money from the banks. So we are working with the banks to come up with good criteria that farmers can meet and apply for their funds.
Will there be collaterals from farmers?
Again it is very specific to the different institutions on the kind of schemes they are coming up with. You always have some kind of collaterals that will be part of the schemes.
For example, we are working with the Bank of Industry on the mechanization scheme. We are working on a specified scheme so that farmers can apply; So it will really differ.
Is there any specific Areas GIZ wants government to focus on?
We are working together with the government to increase capacity. We are working with state extension agents, and I think that they proffer proper funding to do their activities.
But also we are working a lot with private sector organizations. I think generally, if you see along the value chains, we have different intervention plans and it is important to have this view to see agriculture as a business so you don’t increase production without seeing where the market is.
So, I think this is where the government is already looking at and we are looking at that as important also.