Nigeria is making frantic efforts to ensure that agriculture and allied services play a key role in its quest for economic and revenue diversification.
This stems from the humongous negative impact of drop in oil prices on the economy, which includes inflation and unemployment.
To support the current diversification drive and mitigate the impact of oil price, Growsel, Nigeria’s leading agricultural technology start-up is helping smallholder farmers secure credit needed to increase production and boost productivity by acting as a link between the farmers and investors.
Growsel is expected to bring a group of investors’ funds together with the aim of investing it in the primary sector of the country’s agriculture to generate profits thereby impacting on farmers livelihoods.
“Despite contributing about 30percent to Nigeria’s GDP and 70percent to the country’s labour force, most farmers in Nigeria are still entangle in poverty, a problem that basically stems from a lack of funds to access modern farm inputs, which in turn drastically reduces their output,” said Jerry Oche, founder of Zowasel.
“Growsel believes that this current reality in the Nigerian and indeed African agricultural spectrum is unacceptable. As such, it simply exists to bridge this gap by empowering and supporting smallholder farmers nationwide,” Oche said.
Over the years, lack of finance has remained one of the major factors bedeviling the country’s agricultural sector and this impediment has continued to prevent farmers from investing in basic inputs, such as quality seeds, fertilizers and small-scale irrigation facilities needed to raise productivity and generate sustainable income.
As a result, yields have failed to increase significantly, leading to pervasive hunger and poverty. Similarly, with little or no commercial financing and other incentives available to entrepreneurs seeking to build businesses that could boost food production, agricultural production has continued to remain at a subsistence level.
To change all this for Nigerian farmers Growsel has commence registration and verification exercise for farmers across some selected states to ensure finance are provided for farmers to increase their production areas and go commercial.
“To ensure that farmers have the required finance to expand their production areas and boost productivity, we create a meeting point for farmers and investors who are willing to invest.
“We provide farmers with inputs and technical support to guarantee investment returns of 10 to 30 percent for investors as well as profit for the farmers,” Oche said.
He noted that the farmland would also be insured against risks, while also encouraging interested farmers who want to be beneficiary of the fund to visit any Union Bank of Nigeria branch across the country to open special savings accounts for direct labour funding.
Since the inception of the initiative, a total of 50,000 farmers have registered on the platform.
Presently, Growsel is crowd-financing smallholder farmers in Oyo, Lagos, Kaduna, Plateau, Kano, Ogun, Kwara, Kebbi, Benue, and Kogi, and will be expanding to other cities in Nigeria as the organization continues with its screening and verification exercise for famers across the country.
The scheme is targeted are farmers of some specific crops such as tomatoes, cassava, wheat, ginger, potato, maize, yam and rice.
Growsel is expected to disburse about $1 million for 2018 farming season which will be sourced from crowdfunding, grants and private investments.
According to experts, Growsel finance to farmers will increase private capital investment in the country’s primary agriculture and integrate poorer sections of the population into a sustainable process of economic growth and development.
In turn, this will reduce poverty by providing jobs directly and indirectly that will serve as a stimulus to the Nigerian economy and agricultural sector.
Oche, explained that the organisation has been able to partner with establishments such as the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) and Union Bank of Nigeria to provide funding for farmers, while still attracting private funds for farming projects across the country.
“Growsel stands for enhanced food production and the development of human capital by empowering subsistence farmers to become commercial farmers,” Oche said.
The verification process involves visits to the various farm locations and monitoring of farm records.
Apart from securing of finance for farmers, Growsel also support farmers with technical assistance upon visit to their farmland and train them on good agricultural practices.
Farmers are supported with improved seeds and seedlings, fertiliser, tractors, pesticides, insurance and labour cost to aid the cultivation of crops.
“Farmers without Internet access across rural areas in Nigeria are also exposed to global best agricultural practices via SMS,” the founder said.
Apart from providing agro credit to smallholder farmers, Growsel has also launched a real-time weather update tracker to support smallholder farmers monitor their farmland from the comfort of their homes using their mobile phones.
According to the organisation, the tracker can give up to five days advance weather report updates. “The Growsel Weather functionality, simply enables farmers to make informed decisions and plan properly for activities that will be carried out on specific farmlands and locations,” the chief executive officer said.
He noted that farmers who are not beneficiary of the organisations finance scheme can purchase the weather tracker.
According to Growsel, the update tracker can give up to five days advance weather functionality updates. “All successfully registered farmers can us this functionality with or without seeking Growsel funding as long as the farmer has a farming project,” he further said.
To get started, farmers are advised to visit the organisations website to register and provide the necessary information for a new entrant of farmers, by clicking the New Farms’ button on the Dashboard’s Navigation Bar, as shown below.