In line with the federal government’s efforts to diversify the Nigerian economy through agriculture, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s beverage company and a member of Diageo Plc, recently launched its agriculture scheme, tagged “Grow with Nigeria,” at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Speaking on the initiative, Baker Magunda, managing director of Guinness Nigeria, said, “we are here today to further demonstrate our commitment to the Federal Government’s policy on diversification and local content, the growth of the agricultural value chain and that of smallholder farmers who form an integral part of our business. Over the last 20 years, our business has consistently sourced all its core ingredients such as sorghum and malt extract locally through the various local raw material chains. Currently, our local content sourcing is 75 per cent and we plan to increase this significantly within the next couple of years.
“These partnerships have enabled us to develop an ecosystem of private sector players creating value that impacts smallholder farmers directly. In 2018, we partnered with 5,121 smallholder farmers across eight states of Nigeria. These farmers were provided access to finance, certified seeds, unadulterated inputs, mechanisation, training on good agronomic practice and basic bookkeeping, supplier credit process, extension support and access to market. With this intervention, Guinness Nigeria was able to leverage on the collaboration as provided by the respective partners in the ecosystem to improve the livelihoods of these farmers by moving them from subsistence level to full economic inclusion,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Hon. Audu Ogbeh, commended Guinness Nigeria on the laudable initiative.
According to him, “When Guinness began buying sorghum from local farmers, many of us realised that it was a revolution that started ahead of its time. The logic of buying raw materials from local farmers has seen wealth being moved into the rural areas instead of out of the shores of Nigeria because, every time you import anything, you are importing poverty and exporting wealth and dangers not visible. I am very proud of Guinness Nigeria and I urge other manufacturers to do same.”
Stanbic IBTC, the financial partner of the initiative, reassured farmers of its commitment to providing financial solutions that would help them and their businesses grow, through its agriculture desk. Stanbic IBTC has injected over N50 billion into Nigeria’s agricultural sector, one of the largest investments recorded in the sector so far.
In attendance at the event were Ogbeh; Olukayode Oluwole, head of the Agric Credit Support division of the Development Finance Department, Central Bank of Nigeria; Andrew Mashanda, executive director, Corporate and Investment Banking, Stanbic IBTC; Ambassador Sunday Dogonyaro, non-executive director, Guinness Nigeria; farmers; vendors and a host of other.
Farmers who performed well in the 2018 farming season were also recognised and rewarded for their efforts at the event. Yoila Hanabi, the winner, was presented with a threshing machine worth N750,000. Hajara Barau and Atiku Abdulahi, the first and second runners-up, were given bags of fertilizer as presents.
With investments in agriculture, local manufacturing and backward integration, the Guinness Nigeria Local Raw Materials (LRM) initiative has benefited over 6,000 subsistence farmers, rural traders and various stakeholders in the production value chain. The LRM initiative, despite its current focus on rural subsistence farmers, is helping to create value in local markets, strengthening state and national economies, improving agricultural systems, enhancing food security, and boosting supplies of sustainable raw materials that meet global standards.
Guinness Nigeria is in partnership with CBN, Stanbic IBTC, OCP Africa, AFEX Commodity and OXFAM in ensuring the success of the initiative.