Accra, July 6, GNA - Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Tuesday urged financial institutions to simplify the procedure for advancing credit to farmers in order not to frighten them away.
Financial institutions could simplify procedures for farmers and avoid the current practices, which were too cumbersome and too frightening that put off those who were actually engaged in agricultural production.
Major Quashigah, who was addressing delegates attending the first African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) Central Banks forum in Accra, said it was only when money was made to circulate freely through the production chain that African economies would grow.
He said financial institutions should save illiterate farmers from the nightmare of accessing credits that would empower them to produce to feed the nation.
AFRACA is an association of central, commercial, agricultural banks and micro-finance institutions dealing with agricultural and rural finance in Africa.
The two-day workshop, being attended by 50 delegates from all over the continent, is under the theme: "Supervision and Regulation of Rural and Micro-Finance Institutions".
Major Quashigah said, "The time has come for us to inject ingenuity into our financial operations in support of agriculture to bring about growth in the sector; raise incomes and eradicate poverty from Africa". Major Quashigah said no economy based on agriculture would grow through the importation of food items that could be produced locally. He, therefore, urged AFRACA to develop strategies and appropriate policy frameworks to assist its member organisations to increase rural outreach and improve their provision of financial products.
The Minister told the delegates: "You should not forget that the majority of your clients are illiterates."
Mr Emmanuel Asiedu-Mante, Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana, said the Bank had been promoting the rural banking concept as far back as 1976 with the objectives of mobilizing savings for lending to viable economic initiatives as a vehicle for improving the standard of living in the rural communities.
He said the concept had caught up well with the people and currently there were 117 rural banks operating throughout the country. Mr Rasmane Quedraogo, Secretary General of AFRACA, said participants would take the opportunity of being in Ghana to learn about Ghana's rural bank concept and how it was being operated for adoption in their respective countries. 06 July 04