Financial products are at the heart of a financial service provider's business - they are what is "sold" to clients. Like any other business, therefore, a financial service provider must be market-driven and aim to identify and meet customers' needs on a profitable basis. Customers may be private individuals or businesses and their financial service needs will range from needing somewhere safe to keep surplus money to being able to borrow to meet a cash shortfall or being able to send money to a relative in a rural area. Someone providing financial services, therefore, has to decide whether to offer their customers one product or several products and how much to charge in order to make a sustainable business.
Agricultural businesses in particular require products which meet their needs to manage seasonal cash flows, make longer term investments and manage risks. Financial institutions are often wary of the risks associated with the agricultural sector and mechanisms may be needed to encourage them to service the financial needs of farms, traders and agribusinesses. FAO marketing and rural finance specialists have been examining these issues and providing information to member countries through their publications.