5.03.2016

Agricultural Productivity: Competitive Funding Mechanisms For Farmers

Godlove BAINKONG, Cameroon Tribune, Beijing, China on special assignement
While take off of the bank for agriculture delays in the country, China may just be an alternative when she takes one of its related funding tools to Cameroon and Africa.
As Cameroonian farmers impatiently wait for the full functioning of the bank for agriculture announced by the Head of State during the 2011 Ebolowa National
Agro-pastoral Show, their taste could be quenched elsewhere when other competitors come on stage. Within the framework of the new cooperation agreement reached between Africa and China at the last Sino-African Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa in December 2015, China is bracing up to take one of her competitive agricultural funding tools to Cameroon and Africa. This is through one of her policy banks whose speciality is agriculture.
According to Ye Anping, Director of the Department of International Cooperation of China’s Ministry of Agriculture, the People’s Republic of China is considering setting up branches of Agriculture Bank of China in Africa. A branch, he disclosed, already exists in South Africa. “In order to promote cooperation between China and Africa, the Chinese government is planning to establish offices and bank branches in major African countries.”
The Agriculture Bank of China is just one among many other agricultural funding tools subsidised by the government to bolster agriculture productivity and improve the livelihoods of farmers. Others include the National Development Bank, Agriculture Development Bank, Agriculture Credit Cooperatives which operate as functional banks to provide financial services for agricultural development as well as Agricultural Insurance. “For all of these banks, the Chinese central government gives them subsidies so as to down interest rates for farmers. This differentiates the agricultural banks from commercial banks,” Ye Anping said.
Even though farmers in China blame banks for difficulty in accessing loans, the specialised banks are at least there and going beyond simply giving out money to also teaching the farmers on how to invest the money in order to reap returns and refund the loans.
Fruits of these funding mechanisms coupled with efficiency-enhancing policies have propelled China’s agriculture to the limelight. Ensuring food safety and security for her 1.37 billion citizens and exporting surpluses across the globe as well as standing tall among others as the world’s top producers of cereals, meat, cotton, beans, soya beans et al easily makes China an example par excellence in agriculture policies and implementation.
Wake Up Call
That China may flood the Cameroonian and African markets with competitive funding tools for agriculture normally should get stakeholders of Cameroon’s Bank for Agriculture up from slumber. Waking up is synonymous with putting in place the management team and carrying out the necessary procedures to take the outfit off the ground. But beyond simple take off just to be seen to be existing and to fulfil a belated high-level promise, Cameroon’s Bank for Agriculture would need to stretch limits to attain efficiency else it risks encountering difficulties at infancy.
The announced coming of similar banks with a wealth of experience in the sector signals stiff competition in the air and the jungle law of survival of the fittest may easily push off the public utility that has taken years to materialise. Solid groundwork notably on farmer-friendly loans and easy recovery mechanisms are imperative before takeoff!

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