Food security: Cellulant targets 3 million rice farmers for 2017 GES

Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture, supported by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the rep of Ogun State Gov. Senator Ibukunle Amosun,the Commissioner of Agriculture cutting the tape to launch the first harvest of Tilapia fish in Premium Aquaculture Limited.

As the country works towards achieving food security, Cellulant have expressed optimism that if 3 million rice farmers are captured in this year wet season Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme, it will boost rice production.

Cellulant in a report released to Nigerian Tribune said the 383,636 farmers who received subsidised inputs for 2016 dry season GES can produce rice that can sustain 12 million Nigerians for 2 months.

Cellulant is the company responsible for farmers registration and the allocation of farmers to agro-dealers in their locality for easy access of subsidised farm inputs including fertilizers and seeds in the GES scheme.

According to the report from Cellulant, “the GES program which was launched in 2012 with the purpose of easing farmers access to farm impute resumed in 2016 after a year break in 2015.

“The Federal government  took the opportunity offered by the program to promote financial inclusion to farmers. Over 600,000 farmers were financially included and over 450,000 farmers received farm inputs across 30 states in 60 days.

“Rice is one of the major staple food in Nigeria and its importation is a significant contributor to the balance of trade deficit and concomitantly to the Naira’s exchange rate.

“From the 383,636 rice farmers that received inputs during the 2016 dry season program, enough food will be produced to feed 120,000,000 Nigerians for 2 months. We are expecting the food price inflation that started in 2016 when GES didn’t take place in 2015, to begin to drop by mid April 2017.

“By maintaining this effort and reaching out to 3,028,434 rice farmers in the 2017 GES wet season, Nigeria will be able to achieve self sufficiency in the rice value chain as stated by the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

Explaining further, Cellulant said “the Government contributed more than half of the price of farm inputs sold by the private sector to farmers. Farmers also made their own equity contribution.

“It is evident that for every one dollar invested, the FGN stimulated the creation of another dollar of economic activity in the market place. GES can then be described as a quantitative easing mechanism (Injection of new money into the economy) into the rural areas.

“In Nigeria where there is a clear disconnect between Broad Street (Financial sector) and Main Street (our inner cities and rural areas), interventions like GES become very important when it comes to the creation of real growth in the economy”.

In the 2016 Dry Season, Messers Cellulant with the full consent of the Federal Government of Nigeria started to layer financial services to Agricultural services provided for farmers, using the Agrikore frameworks. Farmers are now connected to service points where they can access financial and agricultural services.

Cellulant explained that Agrikore is the platform that connects everyone to everything all the time in Agriculture. It restores life to rural areas. Agrikore enables the intervener in Agriculture (who might be a Government, a Donor, a Business or a Bank) to have end to end visibility of all the participants in the intervention (KYC),  the movement of services (inputs, loans, grants, farm produce sales, etc), the flow of money (payments) and, the web of interaction (information).

“Although the FGN could not make available the price supports to more than 500,000 farmers, we observed that an additional 201,614 farmers over and above the 458,498 farmers who received subsidised inputs during the 60 days of inputs collection, came out to revalidate their data, open an account and also paid the full price for the inputs.

“This proves that if the farmers are properly financially included Government can convert the current price support mechanism into a financial support mechanism. This in our view is the key to unlock the private sector capital on a large scale to the smallholder farmers”, Cellulant added.