- NIRSAL, USAID to Boost Agriculture Output
The Nigeria Incentive Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending has entered into a strategic partnership with the United States Agency for International Development to boost agricultural productivity in the country.
NIRSAL is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria to catalyse a national agricultural revolution by encouraging investments by banks and the entire financial sector into the agricultural sector.
The agreement, to be implemented under the USAID Maximising Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites scheme, was signed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, and the Managing Director USAID MARKETS II, Mr. Harvey Schartup.
Abdulhameed said the agreement was in line with the agency’s objective of providing smallholder farmers with access to modern farming techniques and practices.
He expressed optimism that the partnership would provide a strong platform to support and mentor smallholder farmers in key locations in Nigeria where USAID MARKETS II had presence.
This, he added, would be achieved through periodic training of farmers on best farming practices, provision of improved crop varieties and seedlings to boost agricultural productivity.
Abdulhameed said the pact would also involve forging commercial links between agro-processors and smallholder farmers in rural areas for easy and predictable off-take of their produce.
The objective, he noted, was to ensure a guaranteed market for agricultural produce.
He gave other areas to be implemented under the pact as capacity building on best agronomic practices, development and roll out of Nigerian agricultural enterprises curriculum, leadership training modules, grants provision and introduction of mechanisation to farmers as a result of yield increase.
“It is noteworthy that the strategic objective of the USAID MARKETS II aligns with that of NIRSAL, which is to de-risk the agricultural value chains and facilitate agribusiness,” Abdulhameed added.
The project, according to Schartup, is working across 18 states and seven value chains, including aquaculture, cassava, cocoa, rice, sorghum, soybean and maize.
He said the pact would also focus on cross-cutting issues, including local capacity building and the integration of youths, women and vulnerable populations into value chain activities.
He added that based on the terms of the agreement, NIRSAL would take over the existing structures and partners of USAID MARKETS II when it winds down in August 2017 for possible expansion of operations.