*Plans credit to 3.8m farmers over 10 years
James Emejo in Abuja
Managing Director, Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr. Aliyu Hameed has said that the firm has guaranteed loans totaling N61.16billion to agriculture and disbursed N753.35million as rebate to borrowers who paid back loans on time between 2013 and 2015.
This was the period when the agency was still a project implementation office under incubation within the Development Finance Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He added that NIRSAL had also guaranteed up to 207 agricultural value chain projects valued at N39.49billion under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) programme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development (FMARD) and paid $2.2million (N439.09million) as interest draw back to beneficiaries on 91 agriculture related projects.
Hameed said NIRSAL had between 2013 and mid-2016 trained 157,000 farmers/primary producers in 6 value chains including rice, cocoa, cotton, tomatoes, sesame, and soybeans.
Speaking during a presentation at the Design Workshop on Establishing an African Agriculture Risk Sharing and Financing Mechanism which was organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Nairobi, Kenya, the NIRSAL boss argued that the growth of agriculture in Nigeria will lead not only to prosperity but also improve income equality in the country.
He, maintained that the positive impact of agriculture on income inequality was one of the several reasons for the focus of the Buhari administration on the sector which is believed to have the potential to boost the economy and improve the lives of Nigerians.
Hammed further described the progress made so far by NIRSAL as a product of the farsighted pro-people vision of the Buhari administration and the continued commitment of the CBN under Mr. Godwin Emefiele to achieving the vision.
His comments also came as the AfDB identified the NIRSAL financial model as of the current successes of African agriculture during its post event assessment of the workshop.
Describing NIRSAL as a “Game Changer” in Nigeria’s agricultural space, the MD added that it planned to further facilitate lending to 3.8 million agricultural producers out of the estimated 14 million agricultural producers in the country within the next 10 years by providing guarantees through intermediaries including Microfinance institutions and cooperatives.
In a statement by NIRSAL’s Coordinator Research & Strategy, Bello Abdullahi Abba! Hameed said part of the key objective of NIRSAL was to increase total value of agricultural lending- from the current 1.4 percent to 10 percent of total bank lending by 2026 and generating by $3 billion of additional agricultural lending in order to boost food production levels, stimulate inclusive growth, create jobs and increase the standard of living of farmers who constitute the greater majority of our population.
Essentially, NIRSAL was set up in 2013 as an initiative of the CBN, the Bankers’ Committee and the FMARD as a primary platform for managing agribusiness risk so banks can lend with confidence to the sector which had largely been neglected.
NIRSAL use credit guarantees to address the risk of default and provide technical assistance and incentives to both financial institutions and borrowers to bridge understanding and increase capacity to payback.