Agriculture; Nigeria’s Slight Edge in the Face of Economic Crisis
The oil sector is gradually tiring out of rescuing Nigeria from an Economic crisis and with oil prices crashing globally, Nigeria’s economy is sinking at a fast pace.
Hence, there is the need for a new plan on how to ensure that Nigeria’s economy is rescued from its sinking state and that new plan is to leverage on the huge, lasting and low-risk opportunities that Agriculture opens up.
Admittedly, there have been governmental programmes designed to encourage agriculture such as funding initiatives and innovative ideas on how farmers can get modern technologies with which to carry out their farming work.
However, there is the need for a much more intense and far reaching move to establish agriculture as a tool to replenish Nigeria’s economy as well as sustain it.
In the first quarter of 2018, Agricultural sectors such as farming, fishery, pig farming, poultry farming and others, contributed 21.89 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product while in the first quarters of 2019 and 2020, Agriculture contributed 21.66 and 21.96 percent respectively.
In monetary terms, for the first quarter of 2020, Nigeria’s GDP was at #16.7 trillion naira and agriculture alone contributed #3.7 trillion.
Also, given the fact that importation into Nigeria is not what it used to be, Nigerian now relies on food grown and produced in the country.
Therefore, without a doubt, agriculture is needed if Nigeria and her citizens are to survive the present global economic downturn as well as future similar occurrences.
As programmes and organizations such as the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Program (ABP) and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), have proven, if well facilitated, Agriculture will be a huge support system for Nigeria’s economy.
ABP is an outstanding, short-term measure to boost local food production and it has remained active while positively changing the food quality and quantity of small scale and local farmers.
NIRSAL on the other hand continues to lay the groundwork for medium to long-term sustainability in de-risking agriculture and facilitating finance for agribusiness including small scale farmers.
The numerous initiatives put in place by NIRSAL, has contributed to boosting the agribusiness in Nigeria and ultimately, it has significantly increased the contribution of agriculture, in its different ramifications, to the Nigerian economy such that with the continuous flow of such support from different sectors, the future of Nigeria as regards her economy, is secured.
NIRSAL is one the biggest initiatives currently working to facilitate agriculture by bridging the gap between agriculture and the banking sector such that loans are easily accessible for those who are working in the agricultural sector.
To ensure that these loans are easily accessible to even small scale farmers, the AgroGeoCoop® model was established.
This model is an innovative strategy which involves grouping smallholder farmers within geographic locations into Agro Geo-Cooperatives which are basically cooperative societies with land as the common denominator for members.
This is so far reaching that over16 thousand AgroGeoCoops® have been formed with access to 4 million hectares of land which would contain of 250 hectares each, and 8 million smallholder farmers with 0.5 hectares of land each.
The targeted 8 million farmers make up to 10% of Nigeria’s smallholder population. Farmers do not have access only to hectares of land, they also have access to weather information, quality inputs, farm extension, monitoring, structured finance, aggregation services and access to markets sell their produce.
Hence, the risk of farmers suffering unexpected loses is significantly reduced as they are equipped with needed information to plan and prepare for potential difficulties.
To make the arrangement easy and efficient, the land structure is broken down such that farmers have a choice as to the size of Agro Geo Cooperative they want to belong to. These groups are as follows:
- Agro GeoCoop Cells of 10 hectares
- Agro GeoCoop Blocks of 50 hectares
- Agro GeoCoop Units of 250 hectares
- Emerging Micro AgroGeoClusters of 251 – 500 hectares
- Micro Agro GeoClusters of 501 – 2,500 hectares
- Small Agro GeoClusters of 2,501 – 5,000 hectares
- Medium Agro GeoClusters of 5,001 – 7,500 hectares
- Large Agro GeoClusters of 7,501 – 10,000 hectares
- Mega Agro GeoClusters of 10,001 – 20,000 hectares
- Super Mega Agro GeoClusters of 20,001 hectares and above.
Even better is the fact that to access the benefits of this initiative, farmers are expected to do only a few things such as knowing their farm’s (KYF) geographic coordinates and size, knowing their neighbor (KYN), knowing their customers (KYC), electing their Agro Geo-Cooperative Presidents, Vice Presidents/Secretaries and Directors of Finance, collecting and completing (online and offline) NIRSAL Agro Geo-Cooperative Enrolment Forms and submitting those completed forms to NIRSAL offices across the country depending on their location, to be processed further. All these arrangements are done at zero monetary requirements.
Agriculture really is Nigeria’s bet to advance financial inclusion, grow rural economies, and lift millions out of poverty.
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