Francis Npong, Tamale
T he National Coordinator of Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP) Mr. Roy Ayariga has called on the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the northern region to facilitate the establishment of rural banks to widen the cope of farmers’ access to financial or loan facilities. According to the Coordinator, the lack of rural banks particularly in northern region was impeding the progress of NRGP and other government agricultural initiatives aimed to empower local farmers and therefore called on MMDAs in the region to make frantic efforts to facilitate the establishment of rural banks in each district to help empower farmers to increase crop production. Mr. Ayariga made the called when he briefed the Enquirer on the progress of NRGP since its inception two years ago. “Unlike Upper East where almost every district has a rural bank supporting farmers, with exception of only two districts there are no rural banks in northern region and this is hindering the progress of NRGP”, he said. The Coordinator also appealed to the national banks not to shy away from financing agricultural activities which he said is the backbone of the economy of this country. Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP),is a $104-million agricultural support project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), African Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Ghana and aimed to reduce poverty among farmers in the three northern regions. The NRGP is designed specifically to contribute to the government’s poverty reduction strategies in northern Ghana through commodity value-chain development, rural infrastructural improvement and enhanced financial access or services. Currently farmers in 38 districts in northern, Upper East and West regions including five other districts in parts of Brong Ahafo region were benefiting from NRGP. Before NRGP it was difficult for farmers and famer based organizations to access loans from banks and recognition of this difficulty NRGP had joined forces with rural banks to empower farmers to increase production at the same time helped reduce poverty among them. Mr. Ayariga said lack of rural banks in some districts was making it difficult for farmers at that areas to access NRGP grant facility and that establishing rural banks in these districts would increase the beneficiary famers to achieve the desire result of the programme. He also made a passionate appealed to national banks to expand their services to rural communities to offer farmers opportunity to access financial services to produce more to feed the nation and for export saying agriculture is business and must be seen as such and that until farmers recognized that they could not make meaningful impact.