NIGERIA ­– Guinness Nigeria Plc, has launched an agricultural scheme under the mantra “Grow with Nigeria” as it seeks to align its operation with the Federal government’s efforts to diversify the Nigerian economy through the promotion of agriculture, reports Beverage Industry News.

Baker Magunda, Managing Director Guinness Nigeria said that the initiative is s gesture of the company’s commitment to the Federal Government’s policy on diversification and growth of the agricultural value chain.

“Over the last twenty years, our business has consistently sourced all its core ingredients such as sorghum and malt extract locally through the various local raw material chains.

Currently, our local content sourcing is 75% and we plan to increase this significantly within the next couple of years” he said

Mr Magunda said that the company has engaged in partnerships which have facilitated the development of an ecosystem of private sector players creating value that impact smallholder farmers directly.

According to the firm, the partnership has seen more than 5, 120 smallholder farmers across eight states of Nigeria have access to finance, certified seeds, training mechanization,  extension support and access to market.

“With this intervention, Guinness Nigeria was able to leverage on the collaboration as provided by the respective partners in the ecosystem to improve the livelihoods of these farmers by moving them from subsistence level to full economic inclusion.” he added.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Hon. Audu Ogbeh commended Guinness Nigeria on this laudable revolutionary initiative.

“The logic of buying raw materials from local Farmers has seen wealth being moved into the rural areas instead of out of the shores of Nigeria,” he said.

With investments in Agriculture, local manufacturing and backward integration, the Guinness Nigeria Local Raw Materials (LRM) initiative, has benefited over 6,000 subsistence farmers, rural traders and various stakeholders in the production value chain.

The LRM initiative despite its current focus on rural subsistence farmers is helping to create value in local markets, strengthening state and national economies, improving agricultural systems, enhancing food security, and boosting supplies of sustainable raw materials that meet global standards.

Stanbic IBTC, the financial partner of the initiative, reassured farmers of its commitment to providing financial solutions that will help them and their businesses grow through its agriculture desk.

Guinness Nigeria has also partnered with CBN, OCP Africa, AFEX Commodity and OXFAM in ensuring the success of the initiative.