James Emejo in Abuja
The Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has unveiled plans to facilitate finance to optimise land, infrastructure and water resources within the 11 existing River Basins Development Authorities (RBDAs).
The strategic deal is expected to boost food production with a total of 539,182ha of irrigable land spanning across 28 states.
This is to be done through a strategic partnership with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
Essentially, the agreement is projected to ensure full and sustainable utilisation of the critical economic assets of the RBDAs which have remained sub-optimally utilised for decades.
The increased optimisation will help to achieve the objectives of the Agricultural Promotion Policies of the Buhari administration and the policy objectives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture by significantly increasing food production of basic food staples like rice, soyabeans, maize, increase food exports.
The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed gave the hints during a presentation at a retreat organised by the Ministry of Water Resources for new management staff of the country’s River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs).
Abdulhameed noted however that the collaboration was at the instance of the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh as part of its efforts to achieve the goals of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) of the Buhari administration.
Specifically, he stated that the strategic partnership of the two relevant institutions will preserve scarce foreign exchange by ensuring food sufficiency, reducing the multi-billion annual food import bill put at $11billion per annum while at the same time ensuring inclusive growth, economic diversification and food security.
In a statement by Coordinator Research & Strategy, NIRSAL, Bello Abdullahi Abba, the NIRSAL MD said: “The main objective of this partnership will be to utilise the abundant resources of the River Basin Authorities to drive the Agriculture Promotion policy of the Buhari administration, which includes diversification of the economy and assurance of food security and consolidation of the national import substitution agenda. NIRSAL resources would be focused on facilitating flow of credit and investment for key production operations and revitalisation of existing wasting assets within each RBA”
He further stated that NIRSAL will support the partnership agenda and operations with an aggressive but structured investment drive under appropriate medium term lease options for land and water assets, capacity building for its critical actors to gain new/improved knowledge experience, innovative funding, technology (including mechanisation and precision farming support tools), structured market window and agribusiness management advisory services.
Nevertheless, Ogbeh, who was also at the meeting said the strategic partnership between the Ministry of Water Resources and NIRSAL will unlock the massive potentials of the River Basins that have been laying in limbo for decades.
He expressed confidence in the capacity of NIRSAL to put together a sustainable and robust financing framework that will encourage large scale investment in the land and infrastructure of the country’s River Basins.
He said: “The coming together of the Ministry of Water Resources and NIRSAL marks a new dawn for the River Basin Development Authorities. NIRSAL will ensure that finance which has long held down the development of the assets will now no longer be the biggest problem. I encourage all parties to work closely to see that we bring positive change to these immense national assets so that we can ensure food security, self-sufficiency, boost exports, stop imports of staples we can produce here and re-build our economy, from the ground up.”