By Rabiu Sani-Ali
A group, Makarios Global Resources, has unveiled plans to support 200,000 farmers this cropping season in Kano and Plateau States.
This is contained in a statement by the Managing Director of the organisation, Mr Binchang Binfa, on Monday in Kano.
Binfa said the group in partnership with Sterling Bank PLC under the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) has initiated an agricultural financing scheme, tagged ‘MAKFARMER REGISTER,’ to enhance farmer’s access to credit facilities.
He said the scheme targeted over 200,000 farmers for participation in the programme in the two states, adding that the scope of the programme will be expanded to capture one million in six other states in the next three years.
The manager listed the participating states to include Jigawa, Kaduna, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue and Bauchi.
“In its quest to provide holistic solution to the challenges faced by most farmers in Nigeria, the company has created an innovative platform called “MAKFARMERS REGISTER”.
“The platform incorporates verified farm data; farmer profiles with real time support and access to finance, information and markets.
“Smallholder farmers are linked with other actors along the value chain such as input suppliers, extension services, equipment providers, financial institutions, market information centres, etc.
“With the aim of improving sustainability, efficiency and profitability for smallholder farmers and boosting agricultural production in Nigeria.
“In tackling the challenge of access to finance and market, Makarios Global is partnering with Sterling Bank Plc through the bank’s unique and innovative agric finance product named (SWAY- Ag Fin).
“The facility targets women and youths in agriculture aimed at addressing the challenge of finance which has been a major barrier to women and youths in agriculture as well as helping them with access to markets for the sale of their harvests on the Sterling Bank Sabexng.ng platform,” he said.
Binfe said that Makarios, being a super agent to Sterling Bank, is stimulating rural financial inclusion of the unbanked verified farmers in its network.
The platform, he said, enabled farmers to open Sterling Bank accounts in their locations, operate and access loans with ease.
According to him, over 2,000 representatives drawn from farmer cooperatives attended a two-day interactive sessions held in Jos to create awareness on the programme.
“This year, the programme plans to link 1,000,000 farmers with access to market and finance within the next three years in a more structured way.
“The focus is on rice, maize, soya beans, hibiscus, sesame and ginger.
“MAKFARMER REGISTER platform is poised to provide liquidity to commodity exchanges through effective aggregation of best quality agricultural commodities,” he added. (NAN)(NAN)
Sterling Bank Plc on Wednesday launched a new product, Sterling Women and Youths in Agriculture Finance code (SWAY-AgFin), to provide low-cost financing at single-digit rates to young men and women entrepreneurs in the agribusiness value chain across the country.
Mrs Bukola Awosanya, the Group Head, Agric Finance and Solid Minerals Financing for Sterling Bank, said in a statement in Lagos that SWAY-AgFin was designed by the Bank, in collaboration with MasterCard Foundation.
She said that the facility, which aimed to grow agribusinesses in Nigeria with an overall focus to impact local production, improve employability for young entrepreneurs, and ultimately grow the economy, has a maximum tenor of two years.
Awosanya said that the SWAY-AgFin was also available to entrepreneurs seeking to scale the output of their agribusiness offerings.
According to her, the opportunity will equip beneficiaries with the requisite knowledge and skills in financial management and good agricultural practices, while generating direct and indirect employment.
She also said that the SWAY-AgFin offering was a testament of the Bank’s continued commitment to agribusiness financing, noting that Sterling Bank’s various interventions within the sector “have been made possible with the support of partners such as the MasterCard Foundation.”
“SWAY AgFin has become imperative because the effect of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic has not only restricted access to sufficient and nutritious sources of food, but has also slowed down cash flow to farmers and food suppliers.
“There has also been a shortage of labour for production, harvest, and post-harvest activities. All of these have resulted in higher costs of food prices and disruptions in crop production cycles.
“The supply and distribution of agricultural inputs, such as improved seeds, herbicides, and fertilizers to rural farming communities have been severely hindered in the wake of the pandemic.
” Linkages between major cities in the various states in Nigeria have become difficult as harvested produce cannot reach markets and this has discouraged farmers from engaging in crop cultivation, leading to less production and shortages of staples,” she said.
The Group Head said that the product would help increase productivity in the agribusiness sector, while easing the devastating effects of the pandemic on the lives of youths and women.
Awosanya said that MasterCard Foundation’s involvement underscored the commitment of the two organizations to the growth of critical sectors in the Nigerian economy.
She said: “The offering, therefore, targets youths and women who are involved in all levels in the agricultural value chain, inclusive of small-holder farmers who usually operate on one or two hectares, processors, input providers, and small-scale processors/SMEs whose businesses require cost-effective financing to help scale”.
She said the fund could be accessed on www.sterling.ng/swayagfin; stating that it was open to all, especially those who have keen interest in advancing agriculture by using technological innovations.
Edited By: Mouktar Adamu