… empowers 6,000 farmers , boost raw materials availability
Private sector investment in Nigeria’s agricultural sector is looking up with a member of Diageo Plc, Guinness Nigeria PLC, heeding the call for private sector stakeholders to grow Nigeria’s agriculture as the company recently launched its laudable agricultural initiative “Grow with Nigeria”.
Through the initiative, Guinness Nigeria Plc entered into a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc to empower over 5,000 farmers across the country to boost raw materials availability for the manufacturing sector.
Speaking on the launch of “Grow with Nigeria” scheme, Baker Magunda, MD Guinness Nigeria, said, “we have launched this initiative 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 small holder farmers , who form an integral part of our business.
“ Over the last twenty 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% and we plan to increase this significantly within the next couple of years.”
He added “These partnerships have enabled us to develop an ecosystem of private sector players creating value that impact 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, mechanization, training on good agronomic practice and basic bookkeeping, supplier credit process, extension support and access to market.
Magunda said “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.”
Also speaking, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, commended Guinness, the CBN and the other partners for supporting Nigerian farmers, stating that this was critical to the transformation of the Nigerian economy.
He said, “We have seen the logic of buying raw materials from farmers. We have seen wealth moving into the rural areas, rather than out of the shores of Nigeria, because anytime you import anything into Nigeria, you are importing poverty and exporting wealth; you are also importing dangers which cannot be seen.”
Ogbeh also advised Guinness and other stakeholders to support the cultivation of sorghum for export, especially as the commodity was being sought after by manufacturers of alcoholic beverages outside the shores of Nigeria..
He said, “When Guinness began buying sorghum from farmers, many of us who are farmers realized that this was an initiative that had started way ahead of its time.”
Ogbeh further commended the CBN for the Anchor Borrowers’ programme, stating that without the initiative, most farmers would not be able to access loans at over 25 per cent interest rate; and this would also hamper agricultural activities in the country.
He also applauded the CBN’s ban on access to foreign exchange from the official window for 41 items, declaring that the ban should have been done 20 years ago.
He commended Guinness for its support for the country’s agricultural sector, while he stated that any programme that would bring about the inclusion of every Nigerian who is willing to work was strategically important and a welcome development.
“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.