Guinness Nigeria Plc, a subsidiary of Diageo Plc of the United Kingdom, has forged a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria and Stanbic IBTC Bank, in a bid to reduce the import of raw materials for the manufacturing sector and conserve foreign exchange.
At the launch of the agricultural initiative called “Growing with Nigeria” in Abuja, the Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria, Baker Magunda said the scheme has empowered over 5,000 farmers across Nigeria, and boosted the level of local content in Guinness’ products to about 75 percent.
Magunda noted that the initiative is in line with the Federal government’s effort to diversify the Nigerian economy through the promotion of agriculture. He said the farmers were provided with access to finance, supplied with seeds, and provided with inputs, mechanisation, and training.
Speaking on the initiative, the Managing Director said “we are here today to further demonstrate our commitment to the Federal Government’s policy on diversification and local content, the growth of the agricultural value chain, and that of smallholder farmers who form an integral part of our business”.
Magunda added that “over the last 20 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 percent, and we plan to increase this significantly within the next couple of years”.
Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who was also present at the event, said the move remained critical to the transformation of the nation’s economy.
Ogbeh revealed that “when Guinness began buying sorghum from local farmers many of us realised that this was a revolution that started ahead of its time. 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, because every time you import anything, you are importing poverty, and exporting wealth and dangers not visible”.
The financial partner of the initiative, Stanbic IBTC, reassured farmers of its commitment to providing financial solutions that will help them and their businesses grow through its agriculture desk.