By Modupe Gbadeyanka
In a bid to make funds available to farmers in the country and ensure food security, a mobile payment services firm, Cellulant, has taken steps to make about $100 million available to farmers.
This initiative is under its Agrikore platform, also known as the e-wallet platform developed by Messer Cellulant for Nigeria in 2012.
The firm, in a report titled ‘Nigeria Report, Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) Dry Season, 2016,’ which was obtained by Business Post, stated that it has “arranged a consortium of financial sector actors who have agreed to deploy a loan book portfolio of $100 million into smallholder farmers’ micro loans.”
“The goal is to achieve 1,736,445 farmers borrowing between June 2017 to July 2018,” the report, released in few weeks ago, said.
The report stated further that in 2017, private sectors and financial partners will begin to test pilot the injection of loans into the system.
Cellulant said it was optimistic that if about 3 million rice farmers were captured in this year wet season GES Scheme, “Nigeria will be able to achieve self-sufficiency in the rice value chain as stated by the Federal Government.”
Rice is one of the major staple food in Nigeria and its importation is a significant contributor to the balance trade and concomitantly to the Naira exchange rate.
“From the 383,636 rice farmers that received inputs during the 2016 dry season programme, enough food will be produced to feed 120 million Nigerians for 2 months,” the report stated.
“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,” it added.
Commenting on the report, Co-founder of Cellulant Group as well as the Chief of Party E-wallet for Africa and CEO of Cellulant Nigeria Ltd, Mr Bolaji Akinboro, thanked the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the Enhancing Financial Innovations in Nigeria (EFINA), the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Government of Liberia and the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II for their support since 2011.
He also thanked the Nigerian government for believing since 2011 that it was possible to eliminate corruption, promote transparency and leverage on technology for Agricultural Transformation.
“This exercise which was continued in 2016 by the current administration has proven that a technology that came out of Africa (Nigeria) has the potential to change the world,” Mr Akinboro said.
He stated that, “It is our goal to make Agrikore, the platform that connects everyone in Agriculture to everything, all the time, everywhere across the whole continent and beyond.
“It is a Super Platform that actors can connect to and drive innovation across the agricultural sector in Africa, innovations that stimulate the economy to support job creation and power rural development.”
“Liberia is the first country outside of Nigeria to have adopted and implemented the platform and all its elements fully. Other countries such as Togo and Malawi are in advanced stages of replicating this system.
Governments from the Middle East have also indicated interest in the implementation of the Agrikore platform,” he said further.