Small farmers in Asia contribute significantly to the world’s supply of staples such as rice, corn, root crops, and pulses. Ironically, agricultural producers are among the most food-insecure and poorest segments of Asian populations.
The vulnerabilities of smallholders have been exposed further during the COVID-19 pandemic: though small producers remain at the frontlines of the pandemic, they also experience weakened purchasing power, livelihood insecurity, and hunger, largely as a result of the disruption of local and global food chains. These suggest that despite numerous agrarian reform and land distribution programs and attempts to raise farmer incomes, smallholder farming is still a precarious endeavor with low returns.
A major constraint to the productivity of farmers is their lack of access to sufficient support and credit for investing in crops, technology, or security amidst risks and in the face of shocks. Though credit programs are available, the agricultural sector is risky and unpredictable owing to higher transaction costs of farm credit, unaffordability of the loans, inflexibility of payment schemes, low capital returns in agriculture, and swaying environmental and market factors.
This publication, "The Pest Called Credit Insecurity: Case Studies on Agricultural Credit Programs for Smallholder Farmers in Five Asian Countries" features studies on public agricultural credit assistance programs conducted by Land Watch Asia partners in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines. The papers analyze the relevance, appropriateness, accessibility, and usefulness of the selected programs; and, propose recommendations for government lending institutions to improve smallholders’ access to and utilization of such programs.