The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc) has empowered more than 475 female cassava farmers in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital with inputs and agronomic practices training for the current wet season farming.
According to its Agro Geo-Cooperative® (AGC) model, NIRSA structured the farmers into a group aptly named the Uyo Women Agro Geo-Cooperative.
In addition, NIRSAL will cultivate the 478 hectares of land allocated with modern equipment throughout the planting season to boost their production and profits, thereby eliminating the drudgery of farming with crude implements.
Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, the Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL, said the Uyo Women farmers group would not only empower the 475 farmers but would also create jobs for many families in the community, thereby achieving the agency’s mission of forging partnerships between finance and agriculture.
The CEO who spoke through the Head of NIRSAL Akwa Ibom State Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office, Helen Akula, said the initiative would also achieve 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.
“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.”
He said members of the Uyo Women AGC would receive finance through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme 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 were met.
As part of the strategies, NIRSAL had already distributed inputs to the farmers at Obio Ndot, Oruk Anam Council Areas.
Mrs. Theresa Thompson Akpan, the President of the Uyo Women AGC, lauded the CBN’s support through NIRSAL which she described 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.
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 would be reduced significantly, and the participation of farmers in the ABP would be boosted.
Ushe solicited the sincerity and commitment of 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 Plc’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.
It will be recalled that rice, maize, cassava, sesame and soybean farmers in Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi states and the FCT had been empowered for increased yields and improvement in their livelihoods following NIRSAL Plc’s support for their 2020 wet season farming activities also under the ABP.