James Emejo in Abuja
The Managing Director, Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System (NIRSAL), Mr. Aliyu Abdulhammed, has disclosed that the agency intends to create over 24,000 direct jobs in the agriculture sector, particularly the seed sub-sector and other relevant areas.
He also revealed plan to grant 40 per cent rebate to farmers that are able to repay their loans.
He said NIRSAL, in collaboration with the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), is determined to support the creation of supporting mechanisms and incentives including financing frameworks, issuance of credit risk guarantees and interest drawbacks to financiers and investors to make the seed and grain value chain profitable as well as an avenue for employment generation and poverty reduction.
Speaking at the opening of a stakeholders’ round-table discussion on seed and grain processing technology for Nigeria, the MD further assured operators of some sort of rebate for those who utilise and pay back bank loans.
Dearth of funding remained a key challenge to the development of the agricultural subsector.
He said: “Whatever funding we are able to get you from banks; we are going to negotiate the interest rate so that it works well for you.
“On top of that, any member in this value chain that is able to utilise the funds and able to pay back, we will grant you up to 40 per cent rebate from whatever cost of funds you are able to pay back to the banks.”
Abdulhammed, said the agency was poised and committed to increasing its relevance as the rallying point to facilitate the development, financing and effective working of seed and grain processing business models in the country.
According to him, farmers who are trained in the use of certified hybrid seeds still recorded low viability and germination rates, low or average productivity and up to 30 per cent postharvest losses which contributes significantly to Nigeria’s annual $9 billion worth of postharvest losses.
He said the development often resulted in lower capacity to service the consumer, industrial and export grain markets, lower returns to the farmer, inability to fulfil financial obligations or repay loans, sustained poverty and impoverishment.
He said these increases the aversion of financial institutions to lend to agriculture, particularly, primary production, thereby starving the sector of the much-needed finance capital for growth, development and socio-economic impact.
The meeting sought to leverage expertise of top officials of PETKUS GmBH, a German and world leading post-harvest management company with a century history in manufacturing of custom-made post-harvest solutions across the world.
According to the NIRSAL boss, PETKUS has expertise in high precision seed processing equipment and technology solutions to address issues of poor separation of dead, broken and non-viable seeds and issues of heterogeneous seed sizes which pose significant problems for mechanised planting.
He said: “This solution has potentials to bring about significant yield increase for smallholder farmers from two tons/ha to three-five tons/ha and as well open up local seed companies to the international seed market.
“High precision grain cleaning to capture best value, eliminating moisture content, aflatoxin contamination and other infestation at point of harvest.”
The Director General of NASC, Mr. Philip Olusegun Ojo, commended the initiative stressing that lack of funding remained the major constraint in the seed and grain value chain.
He said: “It is my firm believe that the outcome of today’s deliberations would go a long way in putting Nigeria on the path of achieving sustainable food security.