NIRSAL Targets 360,000 Beneficiaries in New Deal to Boost Agriculture

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James Emejo in Abuja

The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement and Action (MoA) with the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) – a $200 million World Bank funded Project, for the development, financing, and support of de-risked and optimised agribusiness projects.

In line with the project development objective of APPEALS, NIRSAL would layer its Tools, Techniques, Methodologies and Strategic Partnerships (TTMPs) according to its Mapping to Markets (M2M) strategy on the project.

The objective of the partnership is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improvement of value addition along the cassava, cashew, rice, poultry, aquaculture, cocoa, wheat, tomato, maize, ginger and dairy value chains in a sustainable manner.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Managing Director/Chief Executive, NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed assured APPEALS that, in NIRSAL, they have found a trustworthy, reliable, and capable partner that shares the project’s development objective of enhancing the agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improving value addition along priority value chains in participating States.

He said NIRSAL will, “deploy its technologies towards the formation of Agro-Geo-Cooperatives for selected commodity value chains through geospatial mapping, soil suitability tests, BVN enrolment for farmers in addition to the creation of Virtual Asset Titles (VAsT), establishment of field governance structures, and training of farmers on good agronomic practices, team dynamics and social engineering.”

NIRSAL would also link producers to relevant consumer, industrial and export markets through value chain roundtables, business deal facilitation meetings, and legally binding trade documentation.
He said the agency would work with the state teams to structure agribusiness projects patterned after agreed sustainable models for APPEALS’ financing while deploying NIRSAL’s partnerships and models for technology demonstration and adoption.

Abdulhameed also noted that to protect primary producers under the project from losses due to pest, diseases, adverse weather conditions and general drops in expected yields, NIRSAL would deploy its Area Yield Index Insurance product.

According to him, to ensure business sustainability, NIRSAL would extend its technical advice to the APPEALS project with a view to instilling business discipline, adoption of a mandatory savings culture and reinvestment of profits for sustainability and expansion in the beneficiaries.

According to a statement by the Head, Corporate Communications, NIRSAL, Anne Ihugba, the project, which is to be deployed in Cross River, Enugu, Lagos, Kogi, Kaduna, and Kano States, targets 60,000 beneficiaries, and 360,000 farm household members as indirect beneficiaries.

It was anticipated that 35 per cent of direct beneficiaries (or 21,000 individuals) would be women- as the project has a dedicated sub-component to benefit women and youth that would allow them develop agri-businesses that are expected to create jobs and improve their livelihoods.

However, the World Bank Task Team Leader of the APPEALS Project, Dr. Sheu Salau, commended NIRSAL for supporting the project with its technological know-how, expertise, and depth of knowledge in agribusiness.
Also, the National Project Coordinator of the APPEALS project and Director of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr. Amin Babandi, expressed excitement at what he described as a “turning point” in the project’s life cycle.

He said: “Through this agreement, I am confident that APPEALS would achieve its set targets of impacting at least 60,000 and 360,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries respectively.” This, he noted, would bring about the livelihood improvement that APPEALS was created for.