The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has said that it will improve the livelihood of 8 million farmers through its new AgroGeocooperative concept.
The scheme will deploy the 21st-century agribusiness practice to tackle among others, the limited access to finance and risk management difficulties bedevilling the sector.
Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed who made this revelation while receiving a delegation of new executives of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN led by its president, Farouk Rabiu Mudi in Abuja, explained that the visit was necessary, given that the sector needs such innovations that will solve the myriad of challenges stunting its growth.
“It is critical at this junction for the visit to happen and it so happens that we are also developing a brand new concept called the AgroGeocooperative concept, which we believe is the panacea to solving the issuance of smallholder financing, risk management, and generally to lift them out of poverty,” he said.
Abdulhameed, however, posited that millions of Nigerian farmers are still practising subsistence agriculture which according to him cannot sustain the new age agroindustries being birthed in the country.
He added that the current approach to agriculture needs to be revitalised so as to bridge the demand deficit from the domestic market as well as to facilitate export earnings.
On agrofinancing, Aliyu revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is doing its best in ensuring that low-interest loans are available to farmers.
“Under the NIRSAL AgroGeocooperative concept, we intend to organise about 8 million farmers on about 4 million hectares to give 16,000 AgroGeocooperatives. Now, this number is huge and we are not claiming we can do it in one year, but we have started the journey, activated the process, leveraging on science and technology, and a special system to do that,” he added.
The NIRSAL boss further explained that a Memorandum of Understanding that will detail the collaboration roadmap with AFAN would be made available, stating that considerations would be given to all states in the country.
Newly elected AFAN President, Farouk Mudi, lauded NIRSAL for facilitating the disbursement of over N100bn to farmers, adding that the association is ready for a progressive partnership with the body.
“Without funds, we cannot improve the welfare of the farmers who are feeding the nation of 200 million or over,” he said.
While lauding the efforts of the CBN in advancing the cause of farmers and agricultural stakeholders, courtesy of its Anchor Borrowers Programme, Mudi said the visit was to plan a roadmap which will be shared with among others, the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Trade, and Water Resources.
“We will seek a law that will back up the roadmap so that anybody who is appointed Minister is expected to follow it,” he said.