No fewer than 475 female farmers in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, has been empowered by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc), for cassava production for the 2020 wet season farming.
Anne Ihugba, NIRSAL Head of Corporate Communications, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
He stated that the women were selected based on NIRSAL’s Agro Geo-Cooperative (AGC) model.
She said the women were empowered during the official distribution of inputs to the farmers during a ceremony held at Oruk Anam Local Government Area of the state.
She explained that a total of 2,872 rice, maize and cassava farmers belonging to Uyo Women AGC and other organisations from the South South had been impacted positively.
She said that Pemo Anegbette AGC, Upalibuisi AGC, Southern Basin AGC, Integrated AGC, Ijeoma Aibiokula AGC, Green Money Initiative AGC and God’s Own AGC benefitted from NIRSAL’s support in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta.
She pointed out that the beneficiaries from the South-South, were part of a total of 44,670 farmers benefitting from cultivation of 68,771 hectares of land nationwide.
On support to Uyo Women AGC, Ihugba said the female farmers were trained on good Agronomic Practices and received various inputs for their use.
She added that 478 hectares of land would be mechanised throughout the planting season to enhance yields and profits and eliminate the drudgery of farming with crude implements.
Ihugba further said: “members of the Uyo Women AGC will receive fund through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
“A programme, which NIRSAL is playing a critical role as a Participating Financial Institution (PFI), in ensuring that CBN’s and Federal Government’s developmental and economic diversification goals are met,” she said.
Ihugba quoted Mrs Theresa Thompson Akpan, President Uyo Women AGC, as describing the CBN’s support through NIRSAL as a milestone in enhancing cassava production in the state.
She tasked farmers under the Uyo Women AGC to embrace NIRSAL’s approach of farming as a business in order to move from peasant farming to sustainable agribusiness.
She thanked NIRSAL for harnessing the female farmers’ potentials and for its continued support of agribusiness in Akwa Ibom.
Also speaking at the event, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIRSAL, noted that NIRSAL’s support for Uyo Women AGC would not only empower the 475 farmers of the AGC but would create jobs for many families in the community.
Abdulhameed was represented by Helen Akula, Head of NIRSAL Akwa Ibom Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office (PMRO).
Abdulhameed said the development had assisted NIRSAL in achieving its mission of forging partnerships between finance and agriculture while achieving food security, creating jobs and spurring economic growth.
He added that through the ABP, the farmers’ door to commercial financing had been unlocked, paving way for better living conditions.
“The input you have received 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.
Mr Desmond Ushe, Acting Head of the CBN’s Akwa Ibom Development Finance Office, also said integration of NIRSAL’s AGC concept had lots of advantages.
He stressed that with the concept, risks would be reduced significantly, and the participation of farmers in the ABP would be boosted.
Ushe solicited for sincerity and commitment from farmers to match that of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) Mr Godwin Emefiele.
Ushe said Emefiele possessed passion for the ABP and for economic growth through agriculture.
The event in Akwa Ibom fit into NIRSAL Plc’s regional and nationwide support for farmers under the ABP.
It would be recalled that rice, maize, cassava, sesame and soybean farmers in Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi states and the FCT were recently positioned for an increase in yields and improvement in livelihood.
This was as result of NIRSAL support for their 2020 wet season farming activities under the ABP.