First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has funded smallholder farmers across the country to ensure adequate food supply for local consumption as well as for export.
Smallholder farmers are farmers owning small-scaled plots of land where they grow subsistence crops and one or two cash crops while relying almost exclusively on family labour.
While highlighting challenges faced by these farmers, the bank listed them to include; small plot sizes, limited access to markets, inputs and finance, thus, making production unprofitable.
To promote and initiate sustainable development in the agricultural sector, FCMB said, in recent times, it has committed a lot of funding effort and facilitated innovative infrastructure, by providing credit facilities to outgrower initiatives targeted at helping smallholder farmers to maximize their yields.
Speaking on all this gesture, the divisional head, Agribusiness of the bank, Mr. Kudzai Gumunyu, said: “through our work with partners such as Babban Gona, Psaltry and many others who have set up robust outgrower programmes, we are able to provide smallholder farmers with tillage services, fertilizers, as well as extension services. This helps to make their farm yields higher than those of the average farmer, which means more income. As a result, these farmers are able to send their kids to school, build houses, and many are coming on board to join the scheme because of the great impact”.
A critical part of how FCMB helps improve the welfare of smallholder farmers, he stressed, is by making banking and financial services accessible, even in some of the most remote locations in the country.
For instance, he said, FCMB has supported over 100,000 farmers in Nigeria to boost food production and foster financial inclusion through its various cutting-edge schemes andpartnerships with individuals, groups, and other stakeholders in the agric sector.
Through the Babban Gona Agricultural Franchise Model supported by FCMB, he added that, member farmers received training, credit in the form of agricultural input and tillage services, harvesting and marketing support that resulted in increased productivity and profitability that is 2 to 2.5 times the national average.
Over the years too, he disclosed that, FCMB has worked extensively with Psaltry International Company Limited (PICL), an indigenous agro-allied company established in 2005 to market cassava produce.
With support from FCMB and other stakeholders,he pointed out that, Psaltry’s robust outgrowers’ programme has grown to more than 2,000 farmers cultivating within 80 km radius from the factory in 4 different local governments in Oyo State.
“Similarly, Plantation Industries Limited (PIL) is a leading cocoa processing company that engages in the processing and conversion of raw cocoa beansinto cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa cake and cocoa powder. Under the Anchor Borrowers Programme, FCMB supported 1,424 outgrower farmers that rely on PIL for offtake,” he disclosed.
Through this model and several efforts, he noted that, FCMB aligns with the government’s financial inclusion drive to expand financial services access and use to underserved populations.
The lender has also formed partnerships with some organisations including, World Savings Banks Institute (WSBI), German International Development Cooperation (GIZ), Technoserve, DFID-LINKS, to further the financial inclusion push.
Analysts and experts are of the opinion that the bank is well positioned to create more opportunities for farmers to add significant value to the quest of Nigeria to attain food security and wealth for the nation.