Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has commenced a partnership with a United States of America-based economic development organisation – ACDI/VOCA, toÂ Â catalyse investment into agriculture as well as raise the living standards of local communities.
The synergy is in continuation of NIRSALâ€™s efforts to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers, who constitute 75 per cent of the countryâ€™s farming population,
The pilot project under the partnership expected to produce 80,000 tonnes of maize, rice and soybeans, create 22,000 new jobs across the value chains and ensure individual farmer income of N1,000,000 per year for beneficiaries.
Explaining the collaboration, the Head, Corporate Communications, NIRSAL, Innocent Azebeokhai, said NIRSAL and ACDI/VOCA will collaborate in the areas of providing access to finance, input supply, farmer training on best practices as well as facilitation of efficient irrigation to ensure success of the project.
Â As a first step, NIRSAL and ACDI/VOCA hosted a workshop on building practical synergies for inclusive agricultural development in rural communities drew participants from different aspects of the agricultural value chain.
Â The workshop had in attendance participants from the John Deere; Hello Tractor; Center for Dryland Agriculture, Bayero University Kano (BUK); Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU); Syngenta Ltd, and Traxi Continental Ltd.
Others are Tohfan, Naston Engr. Ltd, Dupont Pioneer, Trade Co., Olam, FCMB, Valmont USA, Premier Seeds and Narto Engr Nig. Ltd.
Speaking at the workshop, which had various businesses from the agricultural value chain in attendance, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr. Abdulhameed, stated that â€œWe must urgently begin to work with smallholder farmers to enhance their capacity so that they become commercially viable business entities whose businesses are economically sustainableâ€.
He added that NIRSALâ€™s mandate and focus on making agriculture more profitable for smallholder farmers aligns with ACDI/VOCA commitment to improving the livelihoods of rural communities.
Â â€œI am pleased to partner with ACDI/VOCA on this project. NIRSAL will provide the leadership to start the process and make it a reality for the benefit of our local farmers. As the producers of the food that the nation feeds on, they deserve strong support and should also get decent reward for their produce.
“It is my expectation that this partnership will make significant contribution to other efforts that we are currently pursuing in this direction,â€ he added.
The Senior Agribusiness Advisor and Country Rep of ACDI/VOCA, Mr. Olaf Kula, emphasised the importance of making agriculture appealing to youth as one of the fundamental reasons for creating Alliance for Agriculture.
His words: â€œIf you canâ€™t make money from a farm thereâ€™s little incentive for youth to venture into agriculture. Weâ€™re not going to be able to feed the globe if young people are fleeing from the rural centres to the cities.â€
PTAD Appoints New Directors
The Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has appointed two new directorsÂ and threeÂ substantive directors to man its operations.
The new directors are Mrs. Ndidi Egwuatu, appointed as Director, Civil Service Pension Department, and Mrs. Olufunmilayo Onafowokan, Director, Pension Support Service Department.
The substantive directors are Babagana Kaigama, Director, Police Pension Department, Charles Wali, Director, Parastatals Pension Department and Sulayman Yusuff-Shelleng, Director, Corporate Services Department.
A statement by Deputy Director Corporate Communications of PTADÂ Emma Okondo said
the appointments take immediate effect.
He also saidÂ this, forms part of repositioning exercise embarked upon by the directorate for betterÂ service deliveryÂ .
Egwuatu has a Masters degree in International Law and Diplomacy and was until her appointment an acting Chief Risk Officer having gathered wealth of experience from banking industry as a prominent banker.
OnafowokanÂ is a Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and hadÂ wealth of experienceÂ in financial control and auditing in both the private sector and educational service.
With the new appointees in their positions, PTAD assured the public that it remainedÂ committed to fulfilling its responsibilities to pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS).
Barely six months ago, PTAD sacked five directors over employment irregularities and redeployed some staff back to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
This, followed a staff audit authorised by the Head of Service of the Federation upon the request of the Executive Secretary of the Directorate, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor.
Available information said thatÂ the staff audit was conducted becauseÂ upon assumption of office as the head of the directorate, Ikeazor, was inundated with requests from staff for the confirmation of their appointments.
The report uncovered irregularities in the appointment of the directors by the former ES, Mrs. Nellie Mayshak and led to the sack of the directors.
The directors sacked were Godson Ukpevo of the Civil Service Pension Department; Uloma Uruakpa of Custom, Immigration and Prisonâ€™s Department; Taiwo Ogundipe in charge of Parastatal Department; Atiku Dambatta of Police Pension Department and Roz Ben-Okagbue of Pension Support Services Department.