By Elfredah Kevin
Four days after NewsWireNGR published a story on how the coronavirus lockdown is affecting smallholder and large scale farmers in Nigeria, government has opened access to finance.
The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL Plc) opened a call for application for all smallholder farmers, farmer leaders and aggregators to key into it’s Agro Geo-Cooperative mode, to enable sustainable access to finance.
In the report published on July 31, farmers in Nigeria lamented the lack of access to inputs, how their inability to access markets to sell their farm-produce, and failure to harvest and produce their crops due to finance made a majority of their crops got spoilt thereby causing loss of over N500,000.00.
They complained neglects from the government despite the various interventions including the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to disburse about N75billion as a loan to farmers in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending, (NIRSAL).
They said several efforts made to access the loan have been abortive adding that most times information about the loan got across to them late.
While the report also revealed the lack of specialized tools for farmers to preserve their farm-produce, it also proffered solutions on how government can provide silo and storage stores across the country to assist farmers preserve their produce and increase extension service officers to assist and educate farmers on how to make use of some of the technological tools when provided.
Days after the report, NIRSAL PLC a non-profit financial institutions wholly-owned and incorporated by the Central Bank of Nigeria to De-risk Agriculture and Facilitate Agribusiness, released a statement calling for application for 2020/2021 Dry season farmer leaders and aggregators.
The statement released on the official twitter handle of NIRSAL PLC stated that the opportunity will enable farmers to have access to structured finance, quality inputs, extension, monitoring, weather information, aggregation services, and access to markets.
According to the statement, the Non-profit Financial Institution anticipated the new challenge and opportunities that will emerge for Nigeria’s agricultural economy in the COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 era, therefore, it has embarked on a project of creating 16,000 Agri Geo-Cooperative on 4million hectares of farmland and enrolling about 8million farmers across Nigeria, expected to produce about 12million metric tonnes of Grain Product Equivalent (GPE) annually over the medium to the long term horizons.
Read the full statement below: