The Federal Government said it has successfully disbursed loans to a total of 259,451 farmers, agric workers, and other businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid, across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), through its National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP).
Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, who disclosed this at a briefing in Lagos, said through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), a portfolio under the NSIP, a total of 478,388 eligible beneficiaries already processed, will be paid this month.
“Our target is to provide 1.66 million micro lending for businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid-traders, women cooperatives and market women; enterprising youth, farmers and agric workers, no collateral or interest element.”
According to her, no collateral or interest element is required to access the loan, as applications are successful with the setting up of cooperatives (as a pressure group), generating Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and opening of accounts and a flat administrative fee of five per cent per loan.
She added that through its N-Power programme a total of 20,000 Extension workers have been produced across the country to work on soil testing, seedling, and regular advice to farmers to boost their productivity.
“What we have done with the N-Power programme in every local council area was to ensure that the extension workers give us the list of farmers in communities, so that we can support them, give them the necessary seedlings, and necessary advice. That is really helping the communities,” she said.
Uwais noted that the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), an agribusiness initiative, which provides its clients risk management and the Bank of Industry (BoI) have promised to give financial support to Nigerians to set up businesses, especially in the area of agric, adding that opportunities are opened in various agric ventures in livestock, sheep or goat breeding, among other areas to set up in their various communities, to make rural communities grow by giving them a sense of belonging.
She added that through the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), farmers are now assured of regular source of income, as caterers in communities in states where the programme is currently held, are provided with access to ready market, as farmers sell home grown produce to caterers, who have steady business from feeding school pupils.
“Through this, we have been able to boost the children’s nutrition, with a value chain that creates jobs for the cooks and ensures a sustainable income for smallholder farmers.”