Rusizi — Over 250 farmers and bankers from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) attended a three-day agri-business finance fair to discuss the challenges in financing the sector.
The expo, which was held in Rusizi, ended on Wednesday.
It was organised by the Agri-Hub Rwanda and brought together farmers and representatives of various financial institutions to discuss ways of helping them access loans to finance their agricultural activities.
They also shared their personal experiences and best practices in agriculture.
Agri-Hub is a network of regional and international organisations in eleven countries which seeks to build solid, transparent and action-oriented support networks to promote farmer entrepreneurship
According to Esperance Mukarugwiza, the coordinator of Agri-Hub Rwanda, the finance fair seeks to create a space where banks and farmers could discuss money issues and do business on an equal level.
She said access to finance is still a major challenge to many farmers; something she said is as well affecting productivity of the sector.
She urged banks and farmers to find a common ground in order to modernise the field.
At the occasion, farmers decried difficulties to get collateral to access loans and lack of skills in elaborating projects plans.
They also asked financial institutions to provide long-term credit lines to farmers in order to increase their earnings.
It was noted that various institutions are offering guarantees to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and farmers were subsequently urged to join cooperatives.
Farmers were also advised to improve their financial literacy and the financial management of their businesses.
This leads to a track record on production and profitability and improves the rate of meeting the criteria for loan applications, it was observed.
At the closing of the exercise, awards were handed out to financial institutions which, by popular vote, are most innovative (Bank of Kigali) and most popular (Duterimbere IMF).
The best stand award went to Banque Populaire du Rwanda.