The Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan, has bemoaned the gender gap in agriculture credit access and use among smallholder farming households, urging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) to relax the condition of using land as major collateral for granting access to agric loans.
This call was made against the backdrop of observations that female-headed households were usually at a disadvantage in accessing high volume loan because of their limited ownership and access to productive resources such as land and other inputs.
Dr Femi Ogundele of the Agriculture and Food Policy Research Department of NISER, who made this call at the August edition of NISER’s monthly seminar series, held that policy interventions should rather bring about more gender-friendly alternatives to land as collateral for agric loans thereby relaxing current constraints against female-headed households.
While observing that about 70 percent of agric workforce was women, Ogundele noted that the gender bias in access to credit and loan size against female-headed households had negative impact on average farm level technical efficiency and productivity.
Noting that the efficiency differentials reinforced the vicious cycle of poverty in the country, Ogundele argued that gender-inclusive agricultural credit and finance policies had become expedient for the nation to experience economic progress.
As against land being major collateral for agric loans, Ogundele said the nation could adopt alternative measures like psychometric test, as used in Ethiopia, as well as land reform.
To bridge the gap, Ogundele further advocated the establishment of specific women microfinance institutions/banks and designing of women credit and agricultural finance programmes.
He also stressed the need to deepen formal and informal financial education among women for them to be equipped with required knowledge on agric operations.
In her overview of the paper, Dr Monica Orisadare of the Centre for Gender and Social Policy Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, pointed to social and cultural factors as reasons for the gender gap.
She noted that the gap was the reason for low productivity, low economic growth and development, adding that if both sexes were almost equally engaged, productivity in the country would increase.