- CBN to Reduce $11bn Food Import Through NIRSAL
The Central Bank of Nigeria through the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending has disclosed plans to facilitate fresh investments to optimise land, infrastructure and water resources within the 11 existing River Basins Development Authorities.
The River Basin Development Authorities have a total of 539,182 hectares of irrigable land spanning across 28 states.
The Managing Director, NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, stated this in Abuja while making a presentation at a retreat organised by the Ministry of Water Resources for new management staff of the country’s River Basin Development Authorities.
NIRSAL was set up by the CBN to de-risk and increase the flow of private sector finance into the agriculture sector.
He said the agency, through a strategic partnership with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, would help to ensure full and sustainable utilisation of the very important economic assets, which had remained under-utilised for decades.
The increased optimisation, according to Abdulhameed, will help to achieve the objectives of the agricultural promotion policies of the current administration by significantly increasing production and exports of basic staples foods such as rice, soya beans, and maize.
Specifically, he stated that the strategic partnership would preserve scarce foreign exchange by ensuring food sufficiency, reducing the annual food import bill of $11bn, while at the same time ensuring inclusive growth, economic diversification and food security.
He further stated that NIRSAL would support the partnership 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 knowledge experience, and innovative funding.
Other areas where NIRSAL would be seeking assistance from the Federal Government are technology (including mechanisation and precision farming support tools), structured market window and agribusiness management advisory services.
He 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 President Muhammadu 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.”
Present at the event were the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu.
Ogbeh pointed out that the strategic partnership between the Ministry of Water Resources and NIRSAL would unlock the massive potential of the river basin.
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 as well as boost exports and stop imports of staples that we can produce here and re-build our economy from the ground up.”
On his part, Adamu advised the new management of the RBDAs to leverage the recommendations in the road map as well as the potential of the collaboration to restore the river basins to their original mandate.