The Nigerian rural smallholder farmers endure a lot in a country like Nigeria, and three times higher than their counterparts in other climes, due to several man-made challenges like poor access to basic amenities and inadequate access to loans for agriculture.
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Farmers in Nigeria find it difficult to engage in large scale farming, because there is little financial inclusiveness in these areas. A study called this set of farmers “the unbanked”. This is because the majority of these farmers might have a large expanse of land, but little money to go into the commercialisation of their occupation. Existing studies have shown that a larger population of Nigerians are farmers.
An estimated 70% of Nigerians engage in agriculture. Also, studies have projected that there are behemoth opportunities that lie in the industry. In the past, before the advent of the petrodollar economy, agriculture accounted for 60% of Nigeria’s GDP. Unfortunately, it roughly accounts for 10% today.
With the rise of FinTechs, there seems to be a possibility of revamping the agricultural industry. Countries like China, Singapore, India and Brazil have been able to upscale their agricultural sector through financial inclusion.
According to Michael Ogundare, CEO of Crop2Cash, due to fragmented agricultural value chains, lack of monitoring data and payment channels, banks have been shying away from agricultural lending, and with only 7% of over 38 million farmers in Nigeria having access to credit, there’s a lot of productivity that can be unlocked if someone can solve this.
Nigeria itself is experiencing a FinTech boom. So far, financial inclusion is gradually emerging in rural areas where 98% of Nigeria’s food producers reside. However, there is still much to be done. In this article, I am going to highlight 5 ways FinTechs can reach more farmers in rural areas, to boost agro productivity and general economic growth.
Through Farmers’ Unions
One of the favourable practicable methods of reaching rural farmers is through both national, state, local and village unions of farmers. FinTechs who want to financially include farmers must go out there and meet with farmers and other stakeholders. They have to get down to work and reach out to farmers’ unions where they can effectively educate these farmers on how they can access loans and get invested in.
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Another step for FinTechs to take is by building outposts where they easily receive farmers’complaints, suggestions, inquiries, and so on. FinTechs ought to, especially lending platforms, be on ground so that they can easily reach farmers and get first-hand information on the latest developments in the agro-industry. These outlets serve as the headquarters’ ears and eyes in these rural communities.
Another way in which FinTechs can reach out to more farmers that are unbanked is to have direct investment schemes in agricultural businesses. They can create a special platform for connecting investors to farmers. For example, farmers use Crop2Cash to access, not only financing, but also other necessary agricultural resources.
Another way to reach rural farmers is through the instrumentality of information and education. Most Nigerian farmers are inadequately educated about global modern practices in agriculture. There is rarely any platform for educating farmers on financial and business management in agriculture. FinTechs can fill these gaps by sponsoring an agro-based journal publication that is more fieldwork-based, full of investment education, and stuffed with best agricultural practices. This will help all stakeholders involved. They can also use the agencies of SMS and WhatsApp to easily reach out to rural farmers.
Partnering With Agritechs
To make the agricultural sector more productive, FinTechs will need to partner with AgriTechs, most of whom are well-versed in agriculture and agricultural investment. To help move forward the industry in this country, there will be a need for synergy and cooperation between FinTechs and AgriTechs. While FinTechs will act as a back-end, granting farmers access to funds and other investment packages, AgriTechs can act like front-end, helping farmers with the necessary techniques and technologies for effective farming.
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