BY BAYO AMODU
The Nigeria Incentive Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has successfully disbursed N2.63 billion to 24,732 rice farmers for the 2017 planting season.
This is in continuation of its mandate to facilitate the flow of finance to the agriculture sector and help achieve the objectives of the Economy Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Buhari administration to diversify the economy, attain self-sufficiency in food production and entrench inclusive economic growth.
The managing director/chief executive officer, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed stated this yesterday while delivering a key note address at the 6th AGRIKEXPO & NABG Conference 2017 under the theme “Harnessing Agricultural Potential for Food Security, Youth Development, Nutrition and Wealth Creation” at the International Conference Center (ICC), Abuja.
Abdulhameed stated that the disbursement is part of a N17billion NIRSAL nationwide support program for rice growers that is being implemented under the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Program (ABP).
The NIRSAL chief executive also revealed at the event that more banks have expressed strong interest in collaborating with NIRSAL for on-Balance Sheet Lending following the N10b NIRSAL/STANBIC-IBTC two-part agricultural scheme announced last week.
Abdulhameed explained that NIRSAL is deploying a two-pronged strategy to ensure farmers do not only get access to finance but are also supported to get the best possible yields from their efforts so they can pay back their loans and still make good profit.
Abdulhameed said that to eliminate instances of loan diversion that have plagued similar interventions, the affected farmers will directly receive a huge proportion of the value of the loans in the form of physical farm inputs like improved rice seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides etc. The farmers will only be given a small part of the loan as money for operational purposes.
It would be recalled that NIRSAL is a wholly owned corporation of the CBN and was recently appointed as implementation partner for the Anchor Borrower Program (ABP) because of its institutional capacity to manage risks by ensuring close monitoring and supervision of beneficiary projects across the country.
A key part of NIRSAL’s role is the provision of close technical support in the form of training of beneficiary farmers on best farming techniques to increase the chances of success. This would be provided by NIRSAL’s Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Offices (PMROs) which are located in all states of the federation including the capital, Abuja.
The NIRSAL MD also stated that in line with its mandate of facilitating the flow of finance into the agriculture it recently signed an Agriculture Finance Scheme with STANBIC IBTC that is to start with N10billion for the 2017/2018 season in Nigeria. The scheme is designed to facilitate access to finance for individuals, cooperatives, companies, organized investment groups that have bankable agriculture projects; and will cover NIRSAL supported projects in livestock, tree crops, grains production, mechanization, logistics and poultry value chains.
The first phase of the scheme is projected to create over 92,000 direct jobs, impact about 500,000 lives, boost incomes of rural farmers and complement government’s efforts to drive inclusive economic growth through agriculture.