Supporting rural women’s access to agricultural finance in Nigeria
Agriculture in Nigeria is characterized by low production with most farmers living below the poverty line (Mtsor and Idisi, 2014). Rural women face additional challenges that increase their vulnerability to poverty and may block their access to opportunities such as agricultural financing. However, research has found that increasing their access to agricultural finance could increase food crop production, reduce rural poverty, ensure food nutrition security and contribute to reducing inequality gaps in the society (Adeniyi, 2010).
The Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN, 2014) defined agricultural financing as “promoting the development of the agricultural sector of the economy by providing credit facilities to household, small and medium scale farmers” (Nigerian Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme,2014 ). It can be cash or farm inputs, fertilizers, seed or seedlings, breeder stocks, feeds, farm equipment and machinery. According to Agriculture for Impact, (2017), agricultural finance is the provision of multiple types of services dedicated to supporting both on- and off-farm agricultural activities and businesses including input provision, production, and distribution, wholesale, processing and marketing.
In Nigeria, research has found that rural women’s access to the services and products provided by agricultural financing is limited, and this has affected their capability to improve their practices and production (Udoka, 2013). Research has shown that female-led “agriculture is underperforming, because women do not have equal access to resources they need to be productive” (Adamu, Cordelia Ngodoo. 2014). However, improving agricultural credits to rural women could empower them and allow the local economic sector to grow from low scale to small scale enterprises. A 2016 study showed the positive imapct of agricultural financing on women‘s economic status and that of their community in Nigeria when they have access to the different services provided by agricultral finaincing (Ayeomoni and Aladejana, 2016).
Despite the potential positive impact of gender-responsive agricultural financing, research by ActionAid (ACTIONAID, 2010) highlights the fact that donors may be misallocating resources and deepening inequality: agriculture budgets and financing have overwhelmingly failed to focus on women smallholder farmers, and nearly all agricultural policies ignore the needs and rights of women. As the report states, “most of these policies and their implementation processes are gender blind”.
Challenges to rural women’s access to agricultural finance in Nigeria
- Family responsibilities: Social norms and expected family roles have a profound effect on women’s time, leaving them with less time to work with the agencies responsible for agricultural financing (Lamido, 2012).
- Stereotypical gender roles: In rural Nigeria, research has found that most decisions related to agriculture are made by men and this has limited women’s ability to access credit facilities. According to one study, “13% or less of the women had their opinion considered in each of the farm operations”, and only between “1.0 and 2.5% took the final decision in all of the farm operations” (Damisa and Yohanna, 2007).
- Barriers in the banking sector: Rural women’s access to financial resources, is also limited by biased lending practices that may emerge when financial institutions discriminate against women, consider them “illiterate” or inexperienced and therefore less attractive clients (Lamido, 2012). Other barrierss include inadequate collateral security, difficult loan process procedures, and high interest rates for example (Lamido, 2012).
- Lack of Awareness: Rural women‘s lack of knowledge of agricultural financing options or credits available is another challenge. This is reinforced by the high opportunity cost to increasing their awareness and finding out more information in terms of money, time and energy due to family responsibilities (Ugwuanyi, 2012).
Why do rural women need support to agricultural finance in Nigeria?
Nigeria‘s agriculture is characterized by low production and most of the farmers ( rural women) live below the poverty line (Mtsor and Idisi, 2014). Supporting rural women‘s access to agricultural finance will increase food crop production, reduce rural poverty, ensure food nutrition security and will go along way in reducing inequality gaps in the society (Adeniyi, 2010).
Applying a gender lens to agricultural financing
Using a gender lens in the planning and implementing stages of agricultral policy could help to address these barriers: “understanding policy formulations with gender mainstreaming will go a long way in shaping how women have access to financial resources, especially in the agricultural sector” (Anayo Nkamnebe,2006). This could facilitate an enabling environment that will enhance women‘s access to the financing options available to them.
Ngodoo, C., 2014, Inequality Gaps: Issues for Smallholder Farming in Nigeria, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4(111),
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, B., 2012, Increasing wmen‘s access to finance: Challenges and Opportunities, http://www.cbn.gov.ng/out/speeches/2012/gov_increasing%20womens%20access%20to%20finance_120712.pdf
Gbemisola Oseni, Markus Goldstein, and Amarachi Utah, (2013), Gender dimensions in agriculture,
M.A.D. & . M.Y., (2007), Role of Rural Women in Farm Management Decision Making Process: Ordered Probit Analysis, Trends in Applied Sciences Research, 2(3), pp.241–245, http://www.scialert.net/abstract/?Doi=tasr.2007.241.245 [Accessed February 12, 2017].
M.A.D., . R.S. & . M.Y., (2007), Women Participation in Agricultural Production: A Probit Analysis, Journal of Applied Sciences, 7(3), pp.412–416, http://www.scialert.net/abstract/?Doi=jas.2007.412.416 [Accessed February 12, 2017].