The Nigerian Farmers Group and Corporative Society (NFGCS) a body of farmers with over 1,000 hectares of land leased from local owners at Gaate in Nasarawa State, has presented Nigerians the opportunity to farm and be empowered by subscribing to the corporative society’s investment windows.
The NFGCS, which started in 2017 now employs over 300 famers who work on different sections of the farm daily to ensure that crops are nurtured from planting, harvesting to warehousing and eventually sales. This great feat was in no way accomplished singlehandedly, as KiaKia, a financial lending outfit, supported the organisation with N1.5 million seed funding.
As businesses are getting more innovative, the agricultural sector is not left out, hence the NFGCS has worked out an innovative model of operation that takes away the concern of youths who have reservations working on a farm.
On the other hand, this model which has worked successfully for three years has encouraged Nigerians to invest in agriculture without necessarily being on the farm.
By subscribing to the platform, a member has access to land where the farmers work on their behalf to grow high yield crops ranging from maize, cowpea, groundnut, melon, yam, rice, ginger among others. The subscription in previous times has provided funding for the procurement of locally fabricated implements such as dryers, planters, sprayers as well as tractors just within its first year of operation of the farm.
It also hosts ranching facilities for subscribers who are interested in cattle rearing in the most modern, peaceful and profitable way.
The NFGCS which has a track record of going over and above to satisfy investors has been lauded for its consistency and has received support from organisations that have seen its potential and accomplishments.
The model has also enabled easy access to loans through KiaKia, a Nigerian company that provides micro lending services. So far, members of the corporative have grown their investment portfolio through loans from Kiakia with very low interest rate of less than 10 percent.
The uniqueness of the model is tied to the vision of some young activists who went against the norm of demanding their ‘rights’ from the National Assembly and decided to occupy the farms by creating a platform where many can pool resources together to create value and earn profit from their investments.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigeria Farmers Group & Cooperative Society, Retson Tedheke, the national coordinator/secretary general, said NFGCS is effective because it thrives on the principles of modern business and investments. In his words:
“For instance, if we put the cost of farming one hectare of maize at N280,000, all you need to do to become a member of the corporative from anywhere you are in the world is just to pay N280,000 into your subscription account and we will farm for you.
“After that, you expect return on your N280,000 once every year. Instead of doing it in the farming season, we do it annually because you prepare the land, plant, harvest, warehouse and all that. So, we stretched the timing to have comfort. So, the bulk of the money used in paying workers, to support and manage the farm come from our subscribers.”
Sharing the success of the ranching model, Tedheke said some subscribers have over 54 cattle that are reared by Fulani herdsmen who are paid to do so on the same farm without any clash because the model is inclusive.
Beyond the inclusiveness of the model, the farming technique is research-based farming and has resulted in planting high yield variants, reduction on cost per hectare and improving soil fertility through several tests, including soil texture.
Good news is, subscribers are not limited to one crop or size of land, but as much as their investment portfolio and risk appetite can accommodate.
Endorsing the Cooperative Society, Thedeke reiterated that:
“The Nigerian Farmers Group is a model that works because it is an inclusive model that brings people together irrespective of their tribe and religion to create a value chain for every single person. It is an innovative project which government should copy to resolve the Farmers and herdsmen prolonged issues.
“Besides, we have been doing our business peacefully here because we leased the land from the locals, employed their children, engaged them in security and do community services. It is difficult to have issues because their livelihood will be threatened.”
A major feather on the cap of the society is that the farm, which is now in its third circle, has fulfilled its financial commitments to the subscribers, especially returns. “We are in our third farming circle now and all those who committed their funds to us in the two circles have been taken care of successfully”, he enthuses.
Not only has this emphasised the goodwill of the corporation, it has also attracted other investors besides KiaKia which has increased its lending to members of the society.
Apical Limited, an agro company, which has seen first-hand the progress of the corporative society has partnered with the society in creating more value through building additional and more modern warehousing and processing facilities in view of a rapid expansion of the farm.
While signing the investment deal at the farm recently, Joshua Otobo, managing director, Apical Limited, said,
“The Nigeria Farmers Group Cooperative has been very instrumental in building out a well organised and thriving farming community in a sustainable way. We identify with their vision and efforts and we are looking to build a win-win partnership in the coming months and years. As an out-growers partner, we look to ensure agro value chain is sustained and improved in partnership with the cooperative”.
This is more than encouraging and is a call to all and sundry who understand the benefit of investment to take advantage of this system and partner with the society through investment and watch your money grow through agriculture without having to ever visit a farm.