NIRSAL to Stimulate Food Production

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The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) said it has initiated a scheme to move cattle from the north to markets in the southern part of the country by rail starting from this week.

The Coordinator, Research and Strategy, NIRSAL, Bello Abdullahi Abba, in a statement, described the initiative as an innovative, business-driven response expected to have a positive impact on the perennial herdsmen-farmers’ crisis, job creation and the cost of some food staples across the country,

The scheme which is being operated under a partnership with Connect Rail Services, a bulk freight and logistics service provider, he also said would enable the transportation of tomatoes, vegetables and other perishable food items by rail within the next few months.

Additionally, the farsighted scheme will also reduce pressure on foreign exchange and the depreciation of the country’s road network due to concentration of haulage activities on the road.

“Under the scheme, NIRSAL in line with its mandate to fix agricultural value chains and create links between primary producers and the market aims to leverage private sector financing towards the provision of necessary state of the art equipment, storage and agric produce preservation facilities to ensure safe, efficient movement of agric produce from farms in the north to markets in the south.

“The scheme is projected to reduce the cost of transporting agric produce from the north to the south by over 20 per cent, minimise wastage and spoilage of goods in transit by over 40 per cent in order to preserve value so that farmers get good price for their produce at the destination markets,” he added.

The statement disclosed that three weeks ago, as part of a test run of the historic initiative, cows were transported from Jebba to Lagos by rail within two days in a journey that takes several days by road. The arrival of the cattle in much better condition than herded cattle generated excitement in Oko-Oba, Lagos.

Speaking on the development, the Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed said: “The launch of the Farm to Market scheme is a tribute to the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari who made agriculture a central component of the Federal Government’s economic response to the steep and long standing fall in the global price of oil. NIRSAL’s mandate can best be understood within the context of the policy shift and clear commitment of the Presidency to agriculture.”

Abdulhameed also commended the leadership of the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele as well as the support of Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).

Abdulhameed stressed that NIRSAL only guarantees serious agric projects which are bankable in terms of proven business viability, of strategic economic relevance to the country and promotes inclusive growth and equitable distribution of value so that farmers and other players get better rewards for their efforts.

“We take our mandate very seriously indeed and NIRSAL does not guarantee financing for unserious or poorly thought out projects. We ensure that every kobo committed to every project we undertake counts for the economy and the people of this country.”