IFAD Spends N5.4Bn To Lift Livelihood Of Rural People

Rural-Nigeria…Partners BOA For Better Rural Financing

To lift the living conditions of rural poor in 12 states of the country, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has spent USD27 million (about N5.4Bn). The states include Adamawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Zamfara, Benue, Nasarawa, Lagos, Oyo, Anambra, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Edo.

This was revealed by the Fund’s Country Programme Manager, Atsuko Toda at a conference with agricultural stakeholders at the Bank of Agriculture, in Kaduna, at the weekend.

Ms. Toda said the expenditure was made under a period of five years between 2010 and 2015 under Rural Financing Institution Building Programme (RUFIN).

In a release by the AgroNigeria, the organisation that supervised the media side of the business, she said IFAD programmes under RUFIN was ‘to strengthen microfinance banks, financial NGOs, financial cooperatives, enhance rural outreach to the poor rural households as well as lays the foundation of sustainable microfinance environment in rural communities.’

She said, the objective of this programme is to strengthen microfinance institutions and establish linkages between them and formal financial institutions in 12 Nigerian states and lays the foundation for the long-term development of a sustainable rural financial system that will eventually operate throughout the country.
“By reaching out to poor rural people, the programme ensures that they gain access to financial services and can invest in improving productivity in agriculture and small businesses. Marginalized groups, such as women, young people and those with physical disabilities, are particularly targeted by RUFIN,” She said.

She added that IFAD assists microfinance institutions, including the Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank, the National Poverty Alleviation Programme, and microfinance banks and NGO microfinance institutions operating in rural areas, adding “the programme helps them strengthen rural outreach and improve services to the most vulnerable groups, notably households headed by women.”

Also speaking at the meeting, the Executive Director, wholesale finance of the BOA, who stood in for the banks Managing Director, Mr. Babatunde Igun also said that the bank has expended a total sum of N262 million naira to provide soft loans to rural farmers across the country.

Tracing the history of the BOARBI, the IFAD Country Rep, recalled that it is the direct result of 2013 request by the BOA for technical assistance in reviewing and improving the performance of the Bank’s rural finance interventions. The proposal for the Initiative having been presented to and approved by the BOA management for three pilot locations for a start – Bauchi (Bauchi State), Igbo-Ora (Oyo State) and OKOH (Anambra State) – to serve as incubation centres for the BOARBI which effectively commenced on May 4th, 2015.

According to Igun, the loans given were disbursed without the requirement of collateral, but done with the objective of stimulating agricultural productivity across the country.

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