Cassava Seed Producers Fret over Unavailability of Loans, Insurance Cover

Gilbert Ekugbe

Cassava seed producers have raised concerns over their inability to access loans and insurance cover to hedge against risks.

They spoke at the second edition of the cassava seed business summit organised by the Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) project of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The president of Industrial Cassava Stakeholders Association of Nigeria (ICSAN), Mr. Charles Adeniji, noted that even though the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks and microfinance banks have funding programmes, they are usually burdened by administrative and process challenges that make access difficult.

Adeniji said: “Generally, financing is available with CBN. The commercial banks and microfinance banks have intervention funds, but there are barriers to access, high-interest rates, short tenure, and often strident conditions.”

According to the Vice President of the National Association of Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs Network (NACSEN), Dr. Augusta Amajuoyi, poor access to loans was a major challenge for a private sector-led cassava seed system.

“Seed entrepreneurs find it difficult to get loans because of the harsh conditions given by banks requesting collateral and all manner of things. Sometimes, interest rates are up to 28 per cent,” she lamented.

The summit with theme “Financing and Insurance Opportunities for the Sustainable Growth of the Cassava Seed System,” was held virtually recently, with over 130 cassava entrepreneurs and stakeholders in attendance.

In his welcome remarks, the Managing Partner at Sahel Consulting, Mrs. Temitope Adegoroye, the summit convener and one of the implementing partners of BASICS-II, stated that finance and insurance were crucial for sustainable growth in the cassava seed system.

In the keynote address, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mr. Ernest Umakhihe, encouraged seed enterprises to make insurance covers part of their business strategies.

The Deputy Director for Irrigation, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs. Sugra Mahmood, who represented the Permanent Secretary, stressed the need for awareness creation on the business prospects of cassava seed multiplication and the importance of partnerships and collaboration to support the growth of a sustainable cassava seed system.

The Head, Agriculture Insurance, Veritas Kapital; Mr Ayodele Olaleye, the Group Head of Agriculture, Sterling Bank, Mr. Olushola Obikanye, and the Country Manager of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Tanzania, Mr. Stephen Magige, spoke on the various financing and insurance opportunities available to stakeholders in the cassava value chain.

The Acting Executive Director, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, Dr. Godwin Asumugha, , IITA BASICS-II Project Manager, Professor Lateef Sanni, and the Zonal Manager of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in Tanzania, Mr. Paul Enecko, explained the steps being taken to develop the cassava seed system in Nigeria and Tanzania.

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