AFRICA CLIMATE WEEK 2019: ROLE OF FINANCE FOR FARMERS

Climate change is perhaps the most serious environmental threat to the fight against hunger, malnutrition, disease and poverty in Africa, mainly through its impact on agricultural productivity. This presentation focuses on farmers’ climate smart/ resilient good practices (including pastoralists, fishers, aquaculture, and tree dependent communities’) adaptation to climate change by smallholder farmers. Taking actions to reduce their vulnerabilities and climate risks at farm and ecosystem levels in Ghana. Inputs will be based on experiences dealing with smallholder farmers currently in my role as Team Lead for Nocofio and overall for the past 7 years.

Nocofio provides a platform where individuals can invest in farm units. Solving a challenge of access to funds for smallholder farmers to expand their farms. We also aim to collect data and build a credit score for these farmers so they can access loans from commercial banks. Through the platform, investors get to monitor the progress of the farms.

For this event, I would like to drive home a triangle of Human survival, environmental sustainability and the finance that underpins it all. In this triangle these three elements are integrated, working in synergy and being beneficial for all mankind presently and in the future.

Rural population produce more than 60% of the food we eat in Ghana and this statistics is the same for most parts of Africa. However, these farmers face a lot of challenges, they are poor, face malnutrition and lack access to finance. These individuals are unbanked and the work we do at Nocofio is leveraging on the potential for digital financial services to change this. A typical example is the introduction of Mobile Wallets and how it is affecting money transactions. Financial technology is generating new ways to target, price credit and spread risk to expand agricultural productivity.

The finance sector has a key role to play in allowing agriculture to contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction. However, for most smallholder farmers in Africa, many obstacles are not technological, it is about survival. Are they making enough to feed themselves and their families? Strategically looking at policies and investments that can improve and optimize outcomes for agricultural livelihoods is what we target with our solution.

 

Akwasi making a point at the Africa Climate Week, AICC – Accra

It is possible for agriculture to provide part of the solution to climate issues. In order for this to happen, smallholders, the custodians of our agriculture and food systems, need to be supported in the investment decisions they make. Smallholder farmers increase yields and incomes through improved agricultural practices, often while also sequestering carbon and/or decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. When given the funds and necessary training, our farmers will be the heroes. In an ex-ante analysis of activities in IFAD’s 2011-2014 portfolio using the Climate-Smart Agriculture Compendium scientists found that the following practices contribute to climate change mitigation: promoting agroforestry, use of organic fertilizers and green manures, periodic drainage of rice paddies and pasture management. Synthetic fertilizers also have mitigation potential through soil carbon sequestration, though they increase nitrous oxide emissions

Current agricultural investment flows are insufficient to adequately finance sustainable agricultural development. The main sources of agricultural investment finance are the farmers, herders, fishers and foresters themselves. Before Artificial intelligence (AI) was improved, the inadequate data made it impossible to provide solutions. So with AI just it’s like a baby with a brain but it doesn’t understand that when you put your hand in fire it will burn you. Till there is enough data and information to process it, the brain is not put to use. By collecting enough useful data, Nocofio will provide credit scoring services for farmers to access funds from corporate financial bodies.

I ask these questions to conclude, how do we make Climate-smart agriculture solutions financially viable for the farmer to adopt? How do we increase funding for farmer? Using technology which will benefit both the investor and the farmer. This is the position for Nocofio. Also, we need to scale practices that will prepare smallholder farmers to have a food secure, resilient and low emissions future all whiles making money and being profitable. It is important to note that investments made in the agriculture sector are intended to achieve multiple objectives, such as agricultural growth for food security, poverty reduction and economic development.

“Connecting Finance With Farmers”

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