NIRSAL commences nation-wide program to support rice growers
The Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has commenced a nationwide rice grower support program with the provision of N1.83billion loans to 24,732 rice farmers in Kebbi State for the current planting season.
The scheme is expected to produce a significant increase in rice production from the current yield average of 4 metric tons per hectare to 7 metric tons per hectare, indicating a possible 75 percent increase.
The present disbursement came under the restructured and reviewed platform of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) where supervision of Loan is monitored, with supply of improved seeds and technical support for capacity building.
“The two-pronged strategy that underpins the scheme is meant to ensure that farmers do not only get access to finance but are also supported to get the best possible yields from their efforts,” Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed, Managing Director of NIRSAL said.
Nigerians are said to consume over 6.5 million tonnes of rice annually. Less than half of this volume is produced locally. And according to reports, the country spends over $2bn per annum importing the commodity which has become a staple food.
The CBN had launched a nationwide Anchor Borrower’s Program (ABP) to help farmers produce more rice and reduce import costs.
The NIRSAL nationwide rice grower support program is therefore being financed with funds provided by the CBN under the Anchor Borrower’s Program, BusinessDay learnt.
Abdulhameed, Managing Director of NIRSAL said that the nationwide rice grower support program is in line with the NIRSAL focus on supporting government’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and end importation of rice.
Beneficiaries of the scheme had received a comprehensive training on modern rice farming techniques last week by NIRSAL in collaboration with USAID Markets II, Beresh Consulting Services, Pula Advisory services and the Kebbi State Ministry of Agriculture.
In order to eliminate instances of loan diversion which has plagued other interventions, the loans under the program are structured to be largely in the form of physical farm inputs which includes improved rice seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides etc. The farmers will only be given a small part of the loan as money for operational purposes.
The initiative which is centered on the priority placed on agriculture by the Buhari administration would help to create wealth for the farmers, promote inclusive economic growth and boost financial inclusion for small holder farmers.
NIRSAL, a wholly owned agency of the CBN, was recently appointed as implementation partner for the Anchor Borrower Program (ABP) because of its institutional capacity to manage risks by ensuring close monitoring and supervision of beneficiary projects across the country.
A key part of the program is the provision of close technical support in the form of training of beneficiary farmers on best farming techniques to increase the chances of success. This would be provided by NIRSAL’s Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Offices (PMROs) which are located in all states of the federation including the capital, Abuja.
Onyinye Nwachukwu, Abuja
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