“When we proposed [this] to the world 12 years ago, they did not believe us. Nobody believed us.”
These were the words of Adewale Adekunle as he launched the Innovation Fund for Agricultural Transformation (IFAT). This newly implemented agricultural fund will involve the expert use of financial resources pooled from different sources to harness sustainable innovation that will not only benefit farmers but also members of the private sector and the country as a whole.
Lack of adequate finances and access to resources has often proved a problem for farmers in Africa. In fact, it has limited African farmers’ ability to compete both within the continent and on a the global stage. With IFAT, African farmers will now have access to funds for materials ranging from seeds and fertilizers to transportation and other resources that will ultimately improve their overall productivity.
The funds will be administered to farmers at very low interest rates, and the provision of other agricultural inputs needed by the farmers will be the responsibility of the respective supply agencies. The IFAT interest rate is placed at 5% per loan, and lending will be based upon the production cycle of crops planted by the farmers.
Funding for IFAT will be generated from both conventional and unconventional sources, including but not limited to grants from government sources and contributions from diplomatic missions within the country.
Apart from the provision of finance at low interest rates, the Innovation Fund will also involve the provision of support to research agencies so that farmers will have continual access to modern technologies.
Brighter days indeed await African farmers as the introduction of this initiative will not only significantly increase their productivity but also give them a much needed competitive boost over their international colleagues.
Blogpost by Toluwani Adekunle, a social reporter for AASW6.