Wednesday, 9 July 2014

 Rural lending new options that encourages young farmers in Cameroon

Between the years 2000 to 2013, more than 5 000 young farmers living in rural areas have developed agriculture through rural lending .

In the past couple of years the agricultural sector in Cameroon has experienced an impressive progress in growth rates. Between 2009 and 2013 the sector has witnessed a 5% increase in growth rate, this due to the fact that a lot of young people are beginning to consider agriculture serious and are massively getting into the field. The youths who are inspired by the government, private sector and international organizations through rural funding and value chain.

More young people getting happily into farming

The government have been doing all within her powers to train, recruit and finance farmers or their projects. For the past two decades the government has put up strong institutions whose aim is to see an efficient financing of agricultural projects in the rural areas. 

Crédit Agricole du Cameroun (CDC), Cameroon Development Bank (CDB), the National Fund for Rural Development (FONADER) or the Guarantee Fund for Small Businesses (FOGAPE) and now the leasing organisations are institutions that the government have been putting in place since the early 90s to permit farmers get funds amounting up to 200 000+ FCFA for their farm equipments. The creation of a Higher Teachers Technical Training College (HTTTC) in Kumba earlier this year and the promise made by the head state in 2011, to put in place an Agricultural bank leaves many Cameroonian youths very optimistic about agriculture.Thus explaining why most have chosen to career in agriculture.

The World Bank on her path encourages the youths in Cameroon through Agricultural Competitiveness Project (PACA) valued at US$60 million and slated to last for seven years, seeks to boost the country’s agricultural productivity by developing rural infrastructure facilities, and investing in value chains such as rice and maize cultivation, as well as in the production of broiler and pork meat.

Also since 1981, IFAD has financed nine rural development programmes and projects in Cameroon. Two are now under way:

Rural Microfinance Development Support Project (PADMIR), which was launched in January 2011 with an implementation period of six years;

Commodity Value Chain Development Support Project (PADFA), which started up in December 2011, with an implementation period of seven years.

The IFAD intervention strategy in Cameroon for 2007-2012 supports the achievement of the objectives of the DSCE and the SDSR and is aimed at enhancing the conditions of rural poor people.

Cameroon counts more than 400 micro financial institutions. These institutions help the most farmers to improve their yields. Green Finance a second category micro financial institution, revamped 400 farmers in the flood affected villages of Babessi and Bangolan to improve on their productivity between 2011 and 2013.

"We got right into the rural zones to support the farmers through rural lending. Through this system, we supported more than 200 farmers, one of our pilot models Madame Tabali is now exporting agricultural products she farms abroad" Said Eveline Wins, a rural lending expert, working with Bamenda Police Credit Union (BPCU). She believes it is a new trend to follow for young African farmers. 

But not all Cameroonian farmers are excited about the changing waves. Ako Abun Ako Martin, senior agro-pastoral development adviser,trainee from the National Centre for Animal Husbandry, Veterinary and Halieutic Training Centre (CNFZVH) Jakiri, fears the challenges of this new developments option. "The most important problem the Cameroonian farmers faces with the banking sector is access to funds. Banks do not lend money, or even when they do, the conditions for collateral knock out the average farmers. At times it is almost 150 percent the amount to be loaned. A few rich farmers or coorporatives could be capable of providing collateral for their loans but what about a subsistent farmer in the village?" He thinks "not all the farmers posses the land and can't get the needed loans because they lack the land"

Of course the 1.8 million people who live in the rural areas contribute 55% of the  work force the country' economy and which credits for 22% of the GDP. This workforce which is growing from strength to strength will have to believe in technology for change. 

The PIDMA (Projet d’Investissement et de Développement des Marchés Agricoles au Cameroun) project launched in 2013 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER) together with the World Bank promises to eradicate completely poverty by 2035 and urges the youths to follow new technologies for agriculture. Because of this project, large scale agriculture products consumers like GUINNESS Cameroon SA(GCSA), Nestle and CICAM have expressed their interest in sourcing Local Raw Material (LRM) for their production. 

That is why many young people are competing to get into the different institutions that train agro-experts in Cameroon or abroad. Many youths say agriculture is the future of tomorrow, they believe Cameroon will use this potential to catapult to development before 2035.