As efforts to transform Ghana’s agricultural sector deepens, with the execution of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme, a rural banking expert, Mr. Joseph Akossey, has asked Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) to channel loans to support farmers.
Access to finance, by many smallholder farmers in the country, has been an age long challenge which has hindered the growth of the agricultural sector.
Currently, most rural banks prefer to lend to government salaried workers and businesses rather than to farmers because they view the sector to be risky.
In rare situations where farmers are given loans, the collaterals required by some of the banks before giving out the funds are simply overburdening. And this, according to Mr. Akossey is having an adverse effect on farmers and farming activities.
Against this backdrop, he said RCBs should develop microfinance products for smallholder farmers to help them to increase their yield.
He explained that “by doing this RCBs might be achieving their original mission of supporting farmers and other rural dwellers to have access to financial services.At the same time, it will go a long way to support the government to achieve its agenda.”
Mr. Akossey made the remark in an interview with B&FT during a sales training workshop for mobile bankers of Ahafo Ano Premier Rural Bank, in Kumasi, on the effective operations of mobile bankers among others.
Mobile banking within the rural banking industry are very competitive, “Mobile bankers of RCBs do not only face competition among themselves but also have to compete with those from sister rural banks, microfinance and savings and loans companies among others.”
To gain the competitive urge, he said, good and regular training will build their capacity to compete effectively.
He added that: “RCBs should view mobile bankers as the face of the bank. They are also brand ambassadors and hence the need to train them well to promote the bank and its products.”
“This will help equip them to mobilize more deposits and also win more customers,” he stated.
The General Manager of Ahafo Ano Premier Rural Bank, Mr. Kyei Peprah, commended his staff of mobile bankers for their hard work. He noted that in 2016 the bank had an impressive deposit growth and the mobile bankers played a major role through “susu” deposit mobilization.
He reiterated management’s commitment to support them with the necessary logistics as part of effort to enhance their working condition.