The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has begun an initiative to raise over N140 billion to finance agriculture in the next three years.

It is expected to raise U.S$200 million (N75 billion) in partnership with the World Bank’s Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project for the development, financing and support of de-risked and optimised agribusiness projects.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the nation’s capital, NIRSAL said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) agric financing company “will layer its Tools, Techniques, Methodologies and Strategic Partnerships (TTMPs) according to its Mapping to Markets (M2M) strategy on the project, with the shared aim of enhancing agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improvement of value addition along the cassava, cashew, rice, poultry, aquaculture, cocoa, wheat, tomato, maize, ginger and dairy value chains in a sustainable manner”.

The project is to be deployed in Cross River, Enugu, Lagos, Kogi, Kaduna and Kano states.

It will target 60,000 beneficiaries and 360,000 farm household members as indirect beneficiaries.

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“It is anticipated that 35 per cent of direct beneficiaries (or 21,000 individuals) will be women. Additionally, the project has a dedicated sub-component to benefit women and youths who will allow them to develop agri-businesses that are expected to create jobs and improve their livelihoods,” the statement said.

At the signing ceremony, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIRSAL Plc, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, assured APPEALS that NIRSAL will “deploy its technologies towards the formation of Agro-Geo-Cooperatives for selected commodity value chains through geospatial mapping, soil suitability tests, BVN enrolment for farmers, in addition to the creation of Virtual Asset Titles (VAsT), establishment of field governance structures and training of farmers on good agronomic practices, team dynamics and social engineering”.

It added: “NIRSAL will also link producers to relevant consumer, industrial and export markets and work with the state teams to structure agribusiness projects patterned after agreed sustainable models for APPEALS’ financing while deploying NIRSAL’s partnerships and models for technology demonstration and adoption.”

The second leg of over N70 billion will come from Ecobank Nigeria’s strategic partnership with NIRSAL, which will involve Ecobank Nigeria investing at least N70 billion in agriculture financing in the next three years.

Ecobank Nigeria’s Managing Director Patrick Akinwuntan said N15 billion will be dedicated funding with NIRSAL guarantee for an initial take-off tranche in agricultural value chain financing and rollovers that will be done at the completion of each cycle.

He said: “Ecobank has done it in other countries across the continent. So, we can do the same in Nigeria. This will give us the opportunity to create employment and enable farmers to finance their children’s education with ease. We prefer people to see us not just as a bank but as a partner who will help them to succeed. We are part of the community and we meet the people at the point of their needs.”

SourceTheNationNetOnlineNG.net

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