James Emejo in Abuja
Determined to encourage a shift from the practise of subsistence farming in parts of Ogun State, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has introduced about 851 maize, rice and cassava farmers financeable geo-cooperatives for participation in the 2019 wet season farming under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
The communities which benefitted from the intervention included Ewekoro, Yewa North, and Ogun Waterside Local Government Areas of the state.
The ABP is an agricultural input loan scheme of the CBN in which smallholder farmers receive single-digit interest rate loans in the form of inputs and pay back with portions of their produce.
As a participating financial institution in the programme, NIRSAL administers the ABP on behalf of the apex bank.
NIRSAL commenced the distribution of inputs to the farmers in the presence of several dignitaries at a ceremony held in the premises of the Ogun State Agricultural Development Project Office.
Head of NIRSAL’s Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office (PMRO) in the state, Mrs. Jumoke Ilo, said the institution was committed to addressing the challenges of smallholder farmers in the state, using its end-to-end approach to agricultural projects which spans the pre-upstream, upstream, midstream and downstream segments of the agricultural value chain.
She added that, through the ABP, NIRSAL was addressing problems of access to finance and markets, structuring, low technical know-how and other challenges facing smallholder farmers in the state.
In a statement by Head, Corporate Communications, NIRSAL, Anne Ihugba, she said, “This was the reason NIRSAL has organised farmers into geo-cooperatives, provided them with finance components & training, and will further link them with off-takers.”
Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary of the Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Abosede Olaseni Ogunleye, was pleased that NIRSAL’s intervention was in line with the state government’s third cardinal programme of increased agricultural production, leading to industrialisation.
She noted that industrialisation, “can only be achieved by supplanting subsistence farming with mechanised agriculture. The era of using cutlasses and hoes should gradually give way to the use of motorized ploughs and harrows.”
Also, the Alaye of Ayetoro, Oba Abdulazeez Ishola Adelakun, who was in attendance at the event, expressed gratitude to NIRSAL for including his kingdom in the ABP intervention.
He was confident that the development would bring widespread economic growth to the state and South-West region as a whole.
The Alaye of Ayetoro further noted that, “farmers have been facing challenges relating to finance, access to quality inputs and dishonest middlemen. With this intervention, coupled with support from the state government, Ogun farmers will finally experience relief and massive prosperity.”