By Cecilia Ijuo
The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), are collaborating to create better opportunity for farmers to access to credit facilities among other benefits.
The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed, disclosed this while receiving the new executive members of AFAN in Abuja.
He said NIRSAL would work fully with AFAN to commence the process of having more organised agricultural practices.
Abdulhameed said that the drafting of the roadmap would go a long way in creating better opportunity for farmers to have access to credit among other benefits.
“NIRSAL is ready to provide the technical know-how in coming up with the roadmap and once we agree on paper on the objectives we will call for workshop then a joint NIRSAL, AFAN Product Paper or working document to move forward.
“We accept the proposal but AFAN will submit the concept and we will review it together and allocate a time suitable to put that to action.
“With the roadmap we can approach policy owners, finance, equipment capital and brain capital,” he said.
The managing director noted that the meeting between NIRSAL and the new executive members of AFAN was an auspicious one, saying it would chart a new course for better collaboration.
He stressed that NIRSAL was geared towards supporting farmers to lead them out of their present condition into “agribusiness for prosperity not agriculture for poverty.”
“We will have AFAN side by side to lift millions of small holder farmers out of poverty through agriculture done as agribusiness.
“It is good the visit is happening at a time that we are developing a brand new concept, Agro Geo Cooperative Concept.
“We believe it is panacea to solving the issues of smallholder financing, risk management, link to market, input and generally how to lift them out of poverty.
“Majority of our millions of farmers are still into subsistence agriculture as practiced even before we were born.
“There is no way they can connect to the modern 21st century agricultural support chain to service the industrial market in Nigeria, the domestic market and the export market if we do not uplift them,” he said.
Abdulhameed said doing so would entail leveraging on equipment capital, technology capital, brain power capital and more importantly finance capital.
According to him,mthe Central Bank of Nigeria is doing it utmost best to ensure that farmers get the necessary funding at a very low cost because finance capital will enable you to acquire the technology to do your business.
“Under the NIRSAL Agro Geo Cooperative model, we intend to organise about 8million farmers on about 4 million hectares through 16,000 agricultural geo-cooperatives.
“This number is huge by any standard and we are not claiming that we can do it one year but we have started the journey.
“We have developed the concept and we are leveraging the latest in science and technology and geo-spacious systems to do that.
“At the end of the day, it boils down to the human beings on the farm and the only way we can have access to those farmers that we want to work with is through social engineering leveraging the platform offered by AFAN.”
Abdulhameed assured of NIRSAL’s readiness to assist AFAN to organise farmers to have easy access to financing.
The President All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Farouk Mudi, urged NIRSAL to collaborate with it in coming up with a 10 year roadmap or structure that will guide the activities of the body.
“We plead with NIRSAL to finance and collaborate with AFAN to drive a five day summit on the proposed roadmap development.
“We are happy for the kind of reception NIRSAL has given us and we are happy to collaborate with NIRSAL to bring about revolution in Agriculture.
“NIRSAL is doing what Nigerian farmers have been clamouring for, for so long, convincing banks and other financial institutions to invest more in Agriculture.
“Without funds it is difficult to move the agricultural sector forward, without funding we cannot improve the welfare of farmers, who are feeding the nation.(NAN)