Conference-debate: agricultural financing according to PIDMA
The philosophy underpinning the Project was shared during the conference-debate organized by the Employers’ Association of Cameroon, well known by its French acronym as GICAM, on Tuesday April 3, 2018, within the framework of the Cameroon International Business Trade Fair (FIAC) of Douala.
PIDMA (Agricultural Investment and Market Development Project) and ACEFA (Programme for the Improvement of the Competitiveness of Family Agri-pastoral Farm), two support programmes to the agri-industry, were called upon to present their experiences and opportunities respectively in the area of development in particular, and in that of products « Made in Cameroun » in general. It should be recalled that such was the general theme of the first edition of the Cameroon International Business Trade Fair (FIAC).
Through a succinct exposé on the contribution of PIDMA to the promotion of a sustainable and commercial agriculture, the National Co-ordinator of PIDMA, Mr. Thomas NGUE BISSA, has presented the results so far recorded in 3 years of implementation of the Project to the benefit of the maize, sorghum and cassava producers on the one hand, as well as the financing procedures, the conditions governing the eligibility of co-operative societies to PIDMA’s funding and the initiatives related to the rehabilitation of rural roads through PIDMA, on the other hand. The ensuing exchanges with the public mainly focused on the public and private funding to be allocated to producers.
Definition of an efficient agricultural credit, according to PIDMA
The access to an agricultural financing is in general a challenge to be taken up by the majority of applicants. But, beyond scarcity, a special emphasis should be laid on the quality of financing. According to the National Co-ordinator of PIDMA: «An agricultural credit is deemed efficient when it mainly focuses on the activities of a business plan in connection with an agricultural project to be finalized. In Cameroon, the State and the banking sector would earn more by increasingly financing projects that include aspects such as entire values chain, agricultural inputs, processing and commercialization. On a mid-term basis, the State will be required to step up the distribution of inputs, more specifically fertilizers and seeds, inasmuch as agriculture may not survive without inputs. According to Mr. Thomas NGUE BISSA, PIDMA’s contribution is geared towards such direction.
As a matter of fact, experience has often proven that financial support allocated to individual producers may be diverted by the beneficiary’s multiple concerns which, sometimes, have nothing to do with an agricultural project and instead end up by compromising the smooth repayments of such credits/loans. A financing tailored for co-operative societies (stricto sensu understood in this context as enterprises) and for agricultural companies in the form of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), therefore represents a golden opportunity to update agriculture in Cameroon.
A bank specialized in the financing of Agriculture?
The agricultural sub-sector is the cornerstone of development in countries like Cameroon. As proposed by the Government in 2011, the setting up and entry into force of the specialized Bank for the financing of the agricultural sub-sector remains the most appropriate solution: «Without such a bank, it will be more and more difficult for a country to efficiently address the agricultural development policy. Farmers badly need access to land, roads, inputs and financing, (…) in order to develop their crops», has explained Mr. Thomas NGUE BISSA.
Furthermore, we have learnt from such exchanges of viewpoints with the public that agricultural entrepreneurs have an important challenge to take up on aspects such as marketing, notably as concerns the presentation, packing and general packaging of products. We have noticed a beginning of reinforcement of access to agricultural information with the establishment, by GICAM, of a support centre to the SMEs. Such a Centre equally stands as guarantor for the agricultural co-perative societies at the level of Banks.
As far as the chairperson of GICAM and the National Co-ordinator of PIDMA are concerned, such a conference-debate that gathered actors/stakeholders from the agri-industrial sub-sector is indeed an enriching experience to be absolutely renewed.