Uche Usim, Abuja
In its efforts to attain food security, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc) has supported
2,872 farmers of various crops in the South-South region of the country under the Anchor Borrowers Programme designed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Specifically, it is empowering 475 female farmers in Uyo for cassava production during the 2020 wet season farming.
NIRSAL in a statement said the women farmers empowerment programme was in strict adherence to the principles of all-inclusive growth.
According to its Agro Geo-Cooperative® (AGC) model, NIRSAL structured the farmers into a group which was aptly named the Uyo Women Agro Geo-Cooperative. Thereafter, the 475 female farmers were trained on good agronomic practices and received various inputs for their use.
In addition, all 475 hectares of land will be mechanized throughout the planting season to enhance yields and profits and eliminate the drudgery of farming with crude implements.
Furthermore, members of the Uyo Women AGC will receive finance through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) for which NIRSAL Plc is playing a critical role as a Participating Financial Institution (PFI) in ensuring that the CBN’s and indeed the Federal Government’s developmental and economic diversification goals are met.
To officialize the activities, NIRSAL Plc flagged-off the distribution of inputs to the farmers during a ceremony held at Anang People Primary School, Obio Ndot, Oruk Anam LGA of Akwa Ibom State where Mrs. Theresa Thompson Akpan, the President of the Uyo Women AGC, described the CBN’s support through NIRSAL as a milestone in enhancing cassava production in the state.
She tasked farmers under the Uyo Women AGC to embrace NRSAL Plc’s approach of farming as a business in order to move from peasant farming to sustainable agribusiness. She thanked NIRSAL Plc for harnessing the female farmers’ potential and for its continued support of agribusiness in Akwa Ibom State.
Speaking through Helen Akula, the Head of NIRSAL’s Akwa Ibom State Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office (PMRO), Aliyu Abdulhameed, the organization’s Managing Director, noted that NIRSAL’s support of Uyo Women AGC will not only empower the 475 farmers of the AGC but will create jobs for many families in the community, thereby achieving NIRSAL’s mission of forging partnerships between finance and agriculture while achieving food security, creating jobs and spurring economic growth.
He added that through the ABP, the farmers’ door to commercial financing had been unlocked, thereby paving the way for a better-quality life. He, however, reminded the farmers that “the input you received today is not a grant but a loan that must be paid back for other farmers to also benefit from. I have faith in you all that together as a team every kobo will be repaid with ample profit left in the bank for you to enjoy the fruits of your labour.”
Also speaking at the event, Desmond Ushe, the Acting Head of the CBN’s Akwa Ibom State Development Finance Office, noted that with the integration of NIRSAL’s AGC concept, risks will be reduced significantly, and the participation of farmers in the ABP would be boosted.
Ushe solicited for sincerity and commitment from the farmers to match that of Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the CBN, whom he said possesses the utmost passion for the ABP and for economic growth through agriculture.
The event in Akwa Ibom fits into NIRSAL’s regional and nationwide support for farmers under the ABP. A total of 2,872 rice, maize and cassava farmers belonging to Uyo Women AGC, Pemo Anegbette AGC, Upalibuisi AGC, Southern Basin AGC, Integrated AGC, Ijeoma Aibiokula AGC, Green Money Initiative AGC and God’s Own AGC are receiving NIRSAL’s support in the South-South states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta while a total of 44,670 farmers cultivating on 68,771 hectares of land are benefiting nationwide.
Rice, maize, cassava, sesame and soybean farmers in Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi states and the FCT were recently positioned for an increase in yields and improvement in livelihoods following NIRSAL’s support for their 2020 wet season farming activities also under the ABP.