- …Targets 1m farmers by 2025
BabbanGona Farmers Services Limited has spent over N6billion in its nine years of operation in Nigeria, giving loans to over 70,000 smallholder farmers for improved staple food production.
The managing director of the organisation, Mr Bukola Masha, disclosed this at the emir’s palace, Kano after their three-day annual strategy meeting with Emir Sanusi, who is the chairman of the Board.
Mr Masha said over 140,000 loans were given to maize farmers, who cultivated over 100,000 hectares of land in five northern states of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi and Plateau, helping them to increase their yield to two times national average, and their net incomes to two and a half times.
He said though the main focus of the company was maize farming, it was exploring opportunities in other commodities to expand its support to a broader group of farmers, targeting at least one million farmers by 2025.
“Our primary area of focus is maize farming, but we are exploring opportunities to expand to other crops. All we need from a farmer is his land and hard work, while we provide all the support from modern farming training, suitable inputs, including seeds, fertiliser and chemicals, as well as regular guidance on the farm,” he said.
Also speaking, a director of BabbanGona Farm, representing Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Alhaji Bello Maccido (Wakilin Sokoto), said Babban Gona had both local and international recognition due to its determination to support agriculture, which accounts for 29per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“As part of the three-day retreat, delegates of the German Development Bank were here, as they have also supported BabbanGona. It also enjoys international support from financial institutions.
“As a result of that, we just felt that they are sincere and have a long-term view for the company. We also look at the contribution of agriculture to Nigeria’s GDP, which is about 29 per cent, and we believe that if we support agriculture it will amount to enhancement in the quality of life of our famers. This is why we felt that it is very necessary to support. And it is not only the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Company that is supporting BabbanGona, there are also multi-lateral financial institutions that have been very supportive,’’ Maccido has said.
A beneficiary of the scheme, Malam Halliru Sale from Kaduna State said the knowledge of modern farming acquired through BabbanGona was unmatched.
“Prior to the coming of BabbanGona we were merely tilting the soil, not really farming. This is because what we are harvesting through these new methods of farming has increased in manifolds,” he said.
Another beneficiary, Mrs Hajara Luka said, “We were skeptical initially, but when we gave it a try, we realised how great the scheme is. I was harvesting not more than eight bags of maize on a half hectare, but now, I harvest an average of 25 bags.”