The Builsa Community Bank in the Upper East Region extended financing to over 6000 smallholder farmers within its catchment area of Builsa North, Builsa South, Talensi and Mamprugu Moagduri districts in the last two years.
Over 68 per cent of these smallholder farmers were women.
The General Manager of the bank, Mr Hayatudeen Awudu, in an interview on April 27, 2017, said following the growing demand of agricultural credit in the country, the bank explored financing to all clusters of agriculture, with particular focus on reaching out to smallholder farmers while adopting innovative credit methodologies.
Consequently, he said the bank bought into the USAID –Financing Agriculture Project (USAID-FinGAP) practice of value chain financing model, aimed at addressing the key constraint of lack of access to finance in the agric sector.
USAID-FinGAP is an agribusiness project that has a goal to facilitate finance and investment in the maize, rice and soy supply value chains in the northern part of Ghana and improve ancillary services so that agribusinesses can operate at full capacity and expand levels of food security in the country.
The project works with three key actors to facilitate financing and these include financial institutions, Business Advisory Services (BAS) and the small,medium including large enterprises (SMiLEs).
Formerly, agribusiness formed below five per cent of the bank’s total portfolio but has now moved up to 21 per cent.
“We have been able to achieve at least over 90 per cent of repayment rate of our agribusiness loans against a little above 58 per cent hitherto so we see that as a tremendous achievement,” he said.
Mr Awudu said that through their association with FinGAP, they no longer considered agriculture financing as a risky venture such that the bank no longer waits for smallholder farmers to approach it for loans, but prospect for these smallholder farmers to be able to support and help improve upon their livelihoods.
“With the support of others like BAS providers, we have been able to assist these smallholder farmers with the provision of capacity building, hold bi-weekly meetings where we move in to ensure if there are any support they need from time to time, they get it,” he said.
In this way, he said they were able to know their problems in good time and move in to assist.
Mr Awudu said deliberate increased intervention in the agricultural sector could accelerate the rate of income growth.
“We are of the view that if we are able to provide irrigation facilities that will help the farmers to at least to do 24 hours seven days farming, that will be a very good thing for the farmers. The provision of improved seeds and fertilisers at subsidised rate is also key, he said,” he said.
Again, he said providing farmers with simple modern day farm implements such as combine harvesters would aid them to harvest on time.
“Often times they resort to manual way of doing things and eventually the waste that comes with it is very significant. These are some of the interventions we want to see and that can go long way to improve farmers’ livelihoods,’ he said.