The Towards Sustainable Agribusiness Development and Learning in Entrepreneurship programme, also known as `2scale’ has facilitated access to loan for rural farmers to a tune N24 million.
The National Cluster Advisor of the programme, Mr Thompson Ogunsanmi, made this known in an interview in Abuja.
He said the programme which is worth 45 million Euros was being implemented in nine countries in West and East Africa and is funded by Dutch Government in collaboration the private sector contributing the same amount in form of private public partnership (PPP).
He said the programme which started in 2012 in Nigeria, had registered over 42,000 farmers and about 308 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) had benefitted in areas of capacity building, coaching, simplified innovative technologies and access to market, etc.
Ogunsanmi said one of the aims of the programme which will end in 2017 was to build the capacity of the farmers to see themselves as private sector business men and women.
He added that the programme is being implemented in nine states of Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Kwara, Benue, Kogi and Kaduna state via value chain approach.
According to him, the programme concentrates on working in different partnership which include dairy, soybean, cassava, groundnut, maize, rice and vegetables, involving value chain actors including linking farmers to markets.
“We have some of our famers linked to financial institutions, pampaida Chilly Pepper Association in Ikara Local Government in Kaduna State is an example, we have linked them to Lapo Microfinance Bank and they have access loan to a tune of N24 million.
“The farmers are operating in many cooperatives over a thousand and each of them gets up to N100, 000. It is a cooperative guaranteed scheme and it enhances repayment.
“The pay back rate as at today is at 98 per cent and they are to conclude payment by July ending so you can be sure they will meet their target; we achieved this through inclusive business model,’’ he said.
In the area of dairy production, Ogunsanmi said 2SCALE was partnering Friesland Campina (WAMCO), a diary multinational company to source its raw milk from local farmers.
He said over 600 fulani milk producers in Fashola, Alaga, Ado-Awaye, etc in Oyo State supply milk to WAMCO’s milk collection centre (MCC) in the state.
“We stated with zero liters but currently, the farmers supply over a thousand litres of fresh milk everyday to Friesland Campina WAMCO in their different MCCs.
“This is one of the major breakthrough in Nigeria because people believe doing business with the fulani people is not possible.
“This is a pilot project, Friesland Campina WAMCO is about to replicate the same initiative in conjunction with the project in Ogun State,” he said.
Ogunsanmi said in the area of cassava production, 2SCALE was working with the Nigerian Breweries (NB) and Psaltry International Limited.
He explained that the Psaltry use cassava tubers received from farmers for starch and NB worked on this as one of the inputs to produce beer.
He said the partnership was working very well in Oyo and will be replicated in Benue as well.
According to him, Psaltry International has doubled its processing factories because of constant demandand support of NB and 2scale had equally mobilised famers and improved their productivity.
Ogunsanmi said one of the factors militating against the production of some staple crops in the country was low yield saying that the project was looking into it to find lasting solution.
He said the programme was already collaborating with N2Africa project of IITA and other stakeholders to boost yield of soybean, vegetables and aflatoxin free maize for farmers through the introduction of modern best practices and linking them to market.
He further said hitherto the introduction of the modern technologies, farmers recorded 0.6 tonnes of soybean per hectares in 2012 but as at 2015, farmers recorded 2.9 tonnes per hectares.
The alligator pepper which used to been seen to be used for only traditional ceremonies is now grown on commercial basis by farmers in the state in Bomodeoku village in Ondo State.
“The major challenge we face now is to make farmers understand and see farming as a business and thus respect deadline, business ethics in delivering produce to off takers.
“The companies and multinationals involved in the project wants the farmers to be very ethical in their dealings and respect deadline.
“This is because they plan the farmers into their processing line and failure to turn in input as when due could draw the company back and disrupt business,’’ he added.