Agric Minister urges youths to embrace bee farming

Source: The Guardian

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, on Friday urged youths to harness the potential in apiculture sector for the growth of the nation’s economy.

Nanono, who made the call at the Nigerian Youth Beekeepers Summit to commemorate the 2021 World Bee Day in Abuja, emphasised that apiculture portends great investment opportunities for the youth.

The 2021 World Bee Day is with the theme “Exploring the Potential of Apiculture in Nigeria’’.

Represented by Mr Victor Egbon, Assistant Director, Department of Animal Husbandry Services, in the Ministry, Nanono described beekeeping as a great development for youths interested in agriculture.

“I implore you therefore to explore and bring up the best potential of the apiculture industry for the growth of the nation’s economy and wellbeing of Nigerians.

“This is really a great development for our youths who are embracing diverse areas of agriculture.

“Apiculture as you know is an area still largely untapped in Nigeria.

“The very many opportunities within the Honey Bee value chain provide employment, means of livelihood, wealth and high nutrition to the teeming populace.

“This portends great investment for now and the future in Nigeria.

“As you are aware apart from honey, other bee products of value include bee wax, propolis, pollen, bee venom and royal jelly to mention a few.

He said that the value chain of bee keeping was also a vast area to be tapped by Nigerian youths for its significant advantages.

“These products are useful in pharmaceutical, confectioneries, beverages, medicine and cosmetic industries.

“It is necessary to take advantage of these strings of profitable aspects of bee production, processing and marketing.

“And I will like to let you know that the ministry is supporting the honey bee value chain in its programmes,’’ he said.

Bee keepers who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) described the practice as a money spinning venture.

Miss Blessing Asapu urged Nigerians to understand that bee keeping goes beyond honey.

“There are other things like propolis, bee wax used for cosmetics.

“If youths embrace beekeeping, Nigeria will be an exporter of this commodity. But unfortunately they are scared to do so,’’ Asapu said.

Mr Bolowaji Durogbola, Secretary, Youths for Apiculture Initiative, urged policy makers to come up with favourable policies aimed at promoting beekeeping in the country.

GDP: Agriculture sector grows by 2.28% in Q1 2021

Source: Nairametrics

Nigeria’s agricultural sector grew by 2.28% in real terms in Q1 2021 compared to a growth of 3.42% in Q4 2020 and 2.20% in Q1 2020.

This was disclosed in the Q1 2021 GDP report, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Sunday. Real GDP grew 0.51% in Q1 2021 compared to 0.11% in Q4 2020.

NBS added that Crop Production under Agric real GDP grew by 2.31% compared to 3.68% in Q4 2020 and 2.38% in Q1 2021.

  • Livestock under Agric real GDP grew by 1.65% compared to 2.38% in Q4 2020 and 0.63% in Q1 2020.
  • Fishing under Agric real GDP grew by 3.24 % compared to -3.60% in Q4 2020 and 1.49% in Q1 2020.

The report disclosed that Forestry under Agric real GDP grew by 1.28% compared to 1.24% in Q4 2020 and 1.71% in Q1 2020.

What you should know

The 2020 Agric GDP grew by 2.17% compared to 2.36% recorded in 2019.

Positioning agriculture as business

Source: The Nation

In quest to produce what Nigerians eat and create employment opportunities for youth and women,  the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) is supporting the drive for food and fibre security while assisting in diversifying the nation’s economy, improving household incomes, enhancing revenue mobilisation and generation.

The authority, which was established in 1992 but went into extinction in 2000, was resuscitated in 2020 to harness the full potentials of the vast arable lands in Nigeria to empower small holder and large scale farmers.

Presenting its one year scorecard to reporters, Executive Secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, said the Authority has identified and recovered its farm estates in Gombe, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Kebbi, Oyo, Imo, Katsina, Lagos, Ekiti, Delta, Bauchi, Yobe, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Osun, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Abia States.

Ikonne noted that NALDA has commenced the reactivation in phases, said the Authority has recovered lands in 21 states so far.

However, stakeholders in the agricultural sector who commended NALDA’s initiative and achievement so far, said year-round employment will be generated in the rural area and increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

NALDA soil doctors

Under this programme, the agency said it would train and engage 30,000 youth as soil doctors across the 36 states including FCT.

According to NALDA, the long term goal of the programme centres on engaging young Nigerian into the scientific method of farming to aid better crop yields and food security across the Nation.

It said the core essence of the engagement programme is geared towards creating a pool of qualified Nigerian youth who will carry out soil tests, soil management and extension services for farmers across the nation at a very subsidised rate.

“The programme is targeted at young Nigerian graduates who have a background in agriculture or sciences, the potential graduate must be passionate about agribusiness and food security in Nigeria.

“The young doctors will assist farmers to evaluate their soil, identify soil nutrients and prescribe fertilisers and crops suitable for their farm lands for a better yield,” it said.

Ikonne said the animal husbandry programme has recorded huge success as the agency has harvested over 30,000 litres of rabbit urine and 1,000kg of rabbit droppings, which are being used as fertiliser having subjected it to lab analysis and the rabbit farmers are making income from this.

“The beauty of the rabbit-rearing programme is in harvesting the rabbit waste (urine and droppings) which are sources of an organic fertiliser due to its richness in nitrogen.

“This will help us to grow organic food, which is healthier for human consumption and our aim is to export the organic fertiliser,” he said.

On training and empowerment of 30,000 soil doctors, Ikonne said the program had since commenced and over 500 Soil doctors have been trained in Borno and Jigawa states.

“The essence of this is to equip young graduates with agriculture or science backgrounds with the knowledge of extension services, which include soil testing and analysis and they are being given soil-testing kits in order for them to earn a living while ensuring our farmers are being equipped with best agricultural practices for greater output.

“This programme is in partnership with the state governments,” he said.

In line with NALDA’s mandate of achieving food security, he said they have embarked on establishing fish villages to engage rural women in fish production and packaging in some pilot States of Borno and Abia states.

“In Borno, we have started construction of the fish villages in 10 locations out of the 50 locations provided by the Borno State government to engage 2,200 women. While in Abia, the fish village in one location is 40 percent completed,” he said.

Bem Shija, a fish farmer, said with presence of NALDA in states, many young farmers have indicated interest to be trained in fish farming so as to get value for it.

While noting that NALDA has initiated a programme called NALDA Integrated Farms to be established in the 109 senatorial districts across the country, the executive secretary said they have reached out to the leadership of the Senate for Senators to facilitate land donation with the state governments.

In preparation for the wet season farming, Ikonne assured that NALDA is prepared for the wet season farming across the country on the recovered  farm estates.

He added that the state coordinators where the wet season farming will take place have been fully briefed and are prepared, as they have received more land donations from communities in Akwa Ibom, Cross River Yobe, and Adamawa States, among others.

Ikonne who also said NALDA engaged in dry season farming of rice in some pilot States of Adamawa, Niger, Yobe, Taraba and Bauchi, noted that farmers were trained on dry season farming of which they were not used to and we are expecting harvest in the coming weeks.

“NALDA provided all the farmers required for farming ranging from tractors, boreholes, pumping machines, planters and transplanters, fertiliser and seeds.

“We have a vision to position agriculture in the minds of young Nigerians as business.

“Our major aim is not only to achieve food security in Nigeria, but to show that Nigeria can work through this NALDA integrated farm estate.

This project is directly impacting the rural people in Nigeria, NALDA’s core mandate is to develop the rural area, develop agriculture.

“This will be owned by farmers from the community, that’s why we have reached out to senators so that every senator in collaboration with the state government will donate land within their senatorial zone so that we can have them integrated within the country.”

Economic benefits

Ikonne said the ongoing NALDA project will not only achieve food security, but will reduce unemployment drastically.

”The benefit of engaging our rural women into fish farming and production is not only for local consumption but also for export in order to earn foreign currency”.

An economic expert, Jide Andrew who spoke to The Nation, said the ongoing project initiated by NALDA would encourage industrial development.

”As demand for agricultural products rises around the world, this is the time for the country to grow agribusiness, we have a lot of resources to tap wealth from,” Andrew said.F

Agriculture capable of ending poverty – CDC Group

Source: Punch

The Director of Strategy, Food and Agribusiness, CDC Group Plc, Sami Khan, has said agriculture is a tool capable of ending poverty in countries around the world.

Khan said this on Thursday while speaking about the importance of agriculture at a webinar sponsored by NAHCO Plc and Red Star Express Plc, with the theme ‘Unlocking trade and export opportunities in the agricultural sector.’

“It has been proven that the agricultural sector helps lessen poverty,” he said.

Speaking on the role of the CDC Group to help transform countries around the world, he said the company would continue to stand with Nigeria in terms of partnership in the agricultural sector.

“The CDC Group is fully owned by the UK government, operating over 400 investments since 1948 with countries around the world, especially in Africa. CDC is a well-placed partner in transforming the agricultural sector in Nigeria,” he added.

The President, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, Kayode Falowo, noted that the National Bureau of Statistics said the Gross Domestic Product for agricultural sector in the first quarter of 2021 was lower than the GDP for Q4 2020.

The NBS report showed that crop production grew by 2.31 per cent, compared to 3.68 per cent in Q4 2020, and 2.38 per cent in Q1 2020.

According to him, crop production is a major driver of the agricultural sector.

Emefiele Inaugurates Rivers Cassava Processing Company

Source: Proshare

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has tasked Governors of the 36 States of Nigeria to make their States more viable by investing more in agriculture, particularly crops in which they have comparative advantage, as well as to reduce their dependence on allocations from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).

Mr. Emefiele dropped the challenge in Port-Harcourt, on Thursday, May 27, 2021, at the launch of the Rivers Cassava Processing Company Limited, which is designed to support improved production and processing of cassava into high-quality flour in Rivers State.

He disclosed that the CBN would no longer support the continued importation of items that can be produced in Nigeria, even as he pledged that the Bank will collaborate with Rivers and other States in supporting the development of a viable agricultural and manufacturing sector across the country in line with the CBN mandate of promoting economic growth for the country.

According to him, principal agencies of government at the federal and state level should continue to work hand in hand towards diversifying the Nigerian economy and creating an enabling environment for further investment by firms such as the Rivers Cassava Processing Company.

Emefiele identified land development as a major constraint to increase in agricultural activities in the Southern parts of the country due to its topography, noting that the CBN had partnered with several States Governments in the region under the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS).

Continuing, he said about N7.436 billion had been accessed by four States in the South-South region to open up more land for cultivation, create access roads to agricultural lands, and provide infrastructure among other support services in the region. “These measures are helping to induce greater activity in the agricultural sector and are enabling the movement of goods from farm to factories, and to the markets,” he added.

While commending the Rivers State Government, working with Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, the Dutch Embassy Investment Nigeria Limited and their technical partners, in setting up the integrated facility, the CBN Governor said investments such as the cassava plant could help in driving economic growth, reducing unemployment and inducing other wealth creating activities in the state.

He also expressed optimism that the project would improve livelihoods, as well as enhance sustainability of farming operations for over 3000 farmers, by guaranteeing the offtake of their farm produce in addition to reducing the country’s reliance on imports of cassava by-products.

Emefiele further noted that the emergence of the Nigerian economy from the recession in the fourth quarter of 2020, and the recent report that the economy continued to experience growth in the first quarter of 2021, was due to significant growth in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

Given the multiplier effects of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, on growth, employment, and wealth creation, he challenged all stakeholders, particularly the State Governors to encourage more investment in the critical sectors of the economy.

“With the decline in our foreign exchange earnings, we can no longer afford to support continued importation of items that can be produced in Nigeria.  Our current situation has also made it imperative for the Central Bank to work towards supporting programmes that will enable greater cultivation and processing of key agricultural commodities in Nigeria,” Emefiele declared.

While also noting that the developmental finance initiatives at the CBN had been focused on creating an enabling environment that will drive both public and private sectors participation in the real sector with strategic deliverables around price stability, job creation, financial inclusion, import substitution and accretion to foreign reserve among others, he disclosed that so far, the sum of N333.196 billion had been disbursed to various projects in the South-South region covering activities in different economic sectors.

Nigeria: Where solar power meets agricultural markets

Source: ESI Africa

In 2015, Habiba Ali, the founder and MD-CEO of Sosai Renewable Energies Company based in Kaduna, Nigeria, had a trying time convincing the C&I market that renewables was the way to go. Often, she was met with a “don’t come with your environmental talk” sentiment. Today things are very different.

The change has seen the C&I market boom and most banks are now investing in solar installations. “It’s been so exciting to witness this change, which has been sudden and fast, because it means that all of my groundwork in previous years has not been in vain.”

Habiba Ali, founder and MD-CEO of Sosai Renewable Energies Company, Nigeria

Habiba’s passion is infectious and her drive to promote renewable energy in budding communities and urban areas – executing solar installations and drive product adoption and improving cook stoves for rural communities – has made her a respected voice in the green energy space in West Africa. However, the statistics that reflect the reality of the many millions that still do not have access to energy, keep her feet planted firmly on the ground.

However, she cautions that if the statistics are not changing then the work has not been fruitful: “Some of the research we did in 2010, indicated a rise in the energy ladder. The energy pyramid, where you had a lot more people at the bottom using firewood, charcoal and kerosene, showed movement up the pyramid to use of gas and electricity. Now the dream is to turn that pyramid upside down, and get more people using electricity or gas. If we’re still churning out that same data, it means all of the work we’ve put in is really wasted and that really hurts. It’s really frustrating.”

USTDA grant for feasibility studies

The mother of two is rightly very proud of a recent success for Sosai in the form of a research grant by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). She explains: “We’ve been able to identify thousands of communities in Nigeria that need renewable energy solutions deployed to them. To reach even more people, we need more data. The USTDA do feasibility studies which they fund 100%. We were able to present to them about 100 communities across three states in Nigeria (Kogi, Kaduna and Plateau states). We were granted over $900,000 to implement these feasibility studies, which will help us to identify the communities that are viable for a project rollout.”

According to Ali, with such data and information, investors will take them more seriously. “One of the things you will find, especially in this sector, is that it takes a lot for a woman-owned business to be taken seriously. I’ve been in this industry for over 14 years and know that to be well-regarded means to tick all the boxes and work twice as hard just to make yourself relevant.”

It’s now an exciting time to be a woman in energy: “We signed the award agreement in February where the ambassador of the US and the new head of USTDA, both women, were present among other leading figureheads.”

COVID-19 challenges

Being a woman-owned business also has its advantages, she has discovered: “You know, starting out as a woman is different; it is difficult. You need to learn all the ropes and grow your network while your health, your family suffer. But then with time, once you’ve got the hang of it, people start realising that you’re not going anywhere, you’re there.”

That moment of realisation is when the benefits of being a woman start coming through. “For example, the first USADF award we received had 25% of the overall score allocated to being a female-owned company. So yes, we’ve got some very good value for being female-owned.”

According to Ali, a direct result of the pandemic has been the inability to do installations in communities, which has postponed revenue and adoption by the local residents, particularly as a lot of people are cash-strapped. “If I’ve lived for 15 to 20 years without any electricity, what makes you think delaying another one or two years would make any difference to my lifestyle?”

This setback will not discourage Ali: “I’m one of the advocates of ‘we cannot stop our lives because of COVID’. We can just learn to live around it, live together somehow. It’s just like living with malaria as we’ve done so for years.”

Finding inspiration in agribusiness

Sosai has started installing solar drying systems at agri projects, such as for pineapple and mango farming communities. Ali finds the agricultural sector particularly inspiring and complementary to their work.

“People can do without energy, but no one can do without food, right? And every day you find out that in the agricultural sector, there’s always more innovation and that’s very exciting. In Nigeria, people doing extension services are helping to improve farmers’ practices, ensuring they farm regularly over the years. In the same way, our solar drying project will benefit farmers. Yes, people already had practices but we’re just offering a better way now.”

The agribusiness sector is constantly innovating, constantly doing things that will improve it, make it better. “Looking at it from an investment point of view, it is a sure banker for revenue. It’s an exciting market for me where energy for services based in agriculture will have a huge impact. Solar drying systems are just the beginning and we hope to extend this into processing and irrigation. These are the solutions we are thinking to tie into the 100 communities coming up.”

Knowing your onions

For the Sosai Renewable Energies founder, finding partners and working together for a common cause has become a natural way of doing business and promoting a healthier way of living. Being a member of the Enlit Africa advisory board is also beneficial for everyone, she says.

Having ‘people of repute’ on your advisory board isn’t enough anymore, advises Ali. “Having people on board who are practitioners, who are hands on, constantly innovating, is more practical. We must do our utmost to ensure that acceptance of a variety of solutions is widely spread and more sustainable”

According to Ali, having announced her involvement as an advisory board member to Enlit Africa on LinkedIn has already gained mileage: “People are asking, ‘Oh, really, who is she?’ and they are taking notice, asking questions and it adds to our credibility. So it’s quite exciting to be listed as an Enlit Africa advisory board member.” ESI

Africa’s New Free Trade Area: 5 Reasons why it is a game changer

Africa currently accounts for only 2% of global trade. And only 17% of African exports are intra-continental which is low when compared to 59% and 68% for Asia and Europe respectively. Launched on the 1st of January, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been poised to be the game changer that will see the continent harness its full potential.

This pact is going to create the largest Free Trade Area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. AfCFTA will connect 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP valued at $3.4 trillion.

The aim of the agreement is to reduce all trade barriers, costs and to enable Africa to integrate further into global chains.

Here are 6 reasons why the AfCFTA is a game changer,

  1. The AfCFTA will reduce poverty.

A recent report by the World Bank stated that the pact will boost regional income by 7% ($450billion), increase wage growth for women, and also lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035. It also mentioned that the wages pf both Skilled and unskilled workers will be boosted by 10.3% for skilled workers and 9.8% for unskilled workers.

  1. Positive economic outcomes will be many and varied.

It has been estimated that the agreement will increase Africa’s exports by $560 billion, mostly in manufacturing. Exports between countries would also increase by 81% while the increase to countries outside the continent would be 19%. Markets and economies across the African continent will be reshaped, which will lead to the expansion of key sectors thereby making these countries to compete globally.

  1. Women will benefit from the Agreement.

According to the Economic Commission of Africa, 70% of informal cross-border traders in Africa are made up of women. As AfCFTA clearly focuses on improving lives of African especially women, the tariff reductions will enable informal women traders to operate through formal channels thereby reducing harassment, violence, confiscation of goods and even imprisonment.

It will be close the gender income gap and give SMEs the opportunities to access new markets.

  1. Trade Integrity

The agreement will promote good governance across  Africa and Globally through the concept of “Trade Integrity” which is defined as international trade transaction that are legitimate, properly priced and transparent. This will ensure the legitimacy of trade among African countries and with the rest of the world.

  1. It will cushion the effect of Covid-19.

The African Development Bank Group’s African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2020 supplement estimates that Africa could suffer GDP losses in 2020 between $145.5 billion (baseline) and $189.7 billion (worst case), from the pre-COVID-19 GDP estimates.

AfCFTA offers a short-term opportunity for countries to rebuild and cushion the effect of the pandemic. In the longer-term, the pact will strengthen the continent’s resilience to future shocks.

Reference: World Economic Forum

Certification of Agro-produce: A requirement by International Bodies

Source: Udua Africa

In recent times, the need to have Agro produce meant for export certified has been on the steady rise in Africa. This can be attributed to the fact that developed countries demand for it. The certification of Agro- produce ranges from Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire to fair-trade mangoes in Senegal and organic Tunisian Olive oil.

In a drive to generate revenue and create jobs, governments all over Africa are encouraging their respective agricultural sectors to exports their produce. But over the years there has been ongoing debate over the merits of such labels, which come from outside the continent.

labels are intended to give the consumers the assurance of product quality and farming practices but the labels’ impact on African economies and growers has been mixed. Francois Ruf, a cocoa specialist at French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and one of the industry voices describes it as “scam”.

On the positive side, certification schemes offer African growers several opportunities which includes giving them access to high purchasing power markets such as the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Abdelaziz Makhloufi, the CEO of CHO Group- a company that markets Terra Delyssa (an olive oil brand) said that “the organic label sets us apart from our competitors, as we produce a superior quality single-source olive oil, whereas they are selling blends”.

With labels, local sectors can be structured by creating co-operatives, establishing processing facilities and setting up distribution channels. ECOOKIM which operates in Cote d’Ivoire has four labels for its products- Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, AB and USDA organic- has built a network of cocoa and cashew co-operatives.

The Benin pineapple growers’ association Reseau des producteurs d’ananas (RePAB) partnered with Les Jus Tillou (a start-up) to put together a certification scheme

Wearying environmental results

Like any other system or process, certification schemes are without their own problems. The Cocoa market in Cote d’Ivoire provides an example where it was discovered that it was difficult to get cocoa farmers to comply with the environmental standards.

According to Ruf, a study involving 300 farms and it was noticed that there has been a regress in terms of pesticide which has been on the rise since the 2000s.

With other crops, organic and fair -trade certification schemes stick out as strict rules govern the use of plant protection products and require performance of regular audits which are carried out randomly to reduce the risk of fraud.

Farmers’ antipathy

Farmers have a great deal of resentment towards certification schemes as most do not earn enough to cover for their higher production and certification cost. Industry experts are of the view that the most attractive certification schemes for African growers are those that provide a minimum, realistic purchase price, a premium paid out to both farmers and co-operatives, the signing of a contract and the audit of co-operatives.

Farmers should be trained so that they can benefit from competition between various certification labels and pushing for the premiums to be paid directly to the grower instead of paying it to the co-operatives.

African countries should also demand more transparency from certification organisations and work towards development of African labels over the long term.

Corporate Farmers Partners 3 Platforms To Boost Agribusiness

Source: Proshare

As part of its drive for improving Agribusiness in Nigeria, Corporate Farmers International in partnership with Lagos and Kebbi states launched 3 platforms to transform the sector. Prince Ade Ajayi Co-Founder of the organisation in his opening remarks said the COVID 19 pandemic opened opportunities for digitalization in the Agric sector.

According to him “Farmers and investors across the sector make mistakes because of the dearth in knowledge in investments and agro-practices”.

He said the launch of the platforms would rebrand agriculture as an attractive and innovative sector in Nigeria with the products E-learning platform, Eko School  Agric, and Farmers Support Service.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture in Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Adeniji, described the partnership with Corporate Farmers as strategic because the state is the most populous in Nigeria.

With the need for food security and large-scale agro production, Adeniji believed the platforms of CFI would support the Lagos 5 year roadmap for the state’s agriculture sector.

He said the time had come for tech-savvy farmers in the country to become principal actors in the sector and commended CFI for introducing innovative products.

The Kebbi State Lagos Liaison Officer, Mr. Tukur Mohammed, said the state located in the North-West region had vast arable land for agriculture and has committed large resources under the administration of Governor Atiku Bagudu to boosting agro-production in the area of rice and tomato.

He commended the efforts of CFI and believed that the innovative platforms will increase awareness for farmers in Kebbi and improve their techniques and practices.

Speaking further on the initiatives Mr. Akin Alabi a Co-Founder, Corporate Farmers International provided further insight on the products it introduced.

For the agric e-learning academy platform, he said it was designed for closing the gap in agric education through digitalization, by educating Nigerians on innovative agro-practices.

The second platform, Eko School Agric according to Alabi was a comic book series for children, teenagers, and lovers of comics in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture. It was designed to educate children, catch them young, and explain to them where their food comes from.

On the third platform “Farm Support Service” he said it was designed to support Nigeria’s extension services by providing a weekly digital service for farmers and agro-starters through dedicated mobile numbers accessible anywhere in Nigeria.

Anchor Borrowers’ Programme: Farming Unions to join to access funding

Source: Nairametrics

The Central Bank of Nigeria disclosed earlier this year that N554.61 billion has so far been disbursed to over 3 million farmers since the inception of the Anchor Borrowers Scheme in 2015. This came before President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the sum of N600 billion to take advantage of this year’s rainy season and enhance food production, as Nigeria is expected to produce 60% of the country’s wheat demand.

Unity Bank CEO, Mrs Tomi Somefun, disclosed recently that her bank, which is an outlet for CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme for farmers, will support 120,000 maize farmers during this year’s maize planting season.

A bank rep told Nairametrics that, “the most important first step is to be a member of a farming union that falls under the scheme including Rice Farmers Association and Maize Association of Nigeria,” adding that a CBN partner works with the unions through creating accounts for the members and farmers which enables the bank to run its checks of eligibility.

So what does it take to join a Union, and which should a farmer apply for?

Akingbala Adetokunbo, partner at PosterVillam Ltd told Nairametrics that his company advises farmers to sign up with farmers associations involved in wheat, onions, maize, sesame seed and avocado.

“Agriculture in Nigeria has its ups and downs, and people often ask about which cooperatives they can join. Whilst there are a lot, we often advise people to sign up with farmers associations involved in wheat, onions, maize, sesame seed and avocado,” he said.

When signing up with any ABP scheme, the best farmers will do thorough registration and credit checks, onboard with their BVN, through the DFOs, PFIs and the Anchor.

One Anchor I can recommend is TheTomatoJos Company (Tomatoes and Maize) and very soon, GrainCroft,” he added.

Adetokunbo added that after application to any cooperative, farmers are registered into the National Collateral Registry.

“The cooperatives are the Anchor,” he said. The Anchor does the management of farmers and all other procedures for the CBN loans.

What you should know

The National Bureau of Statistics disclosed this week that Nigeria’s agricultural sector grew by 2.28% in real terms in Q1 2021 compared to a growth of 3.42% in Q4 2020 and 2.20% in Q1 2020.