Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) are jointly developing a strategic roadmap that will ultimately return the lost glory of farmers and agriculture as the fulcrum of economic growth in the country.
This was the agreement reached on Wednesday when the newly-elected executives of AFAN paid a courtesy visit to the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Abdulhameed Aliyu in Abuja.
In his remarks, Aliyu said the partnership could not have come at a better time than now because NIRSAL was championing various initiatives aimed at boosting the fortunes Nigerian farmers and guaranteeing food security.
He said the agency currently runs an
agro geo-cooperatives concept that seeks to assemble 8 million farmers that will cultivate 4 million hectares through 16,000 geo-cooperative groups.
Aliyu added that the idea of the cooperative societies was to bunch together individual subsistence farmers under one platform where they can become more visible to receive support in terms of financing, improved seedlings, agriculture extension services and other assistance.
He said: “This visit is greatly appreciated. I’m confident that AFAN under Alhaji Farouk will lead the farmers on a long journey into prosperity and not poverty via agriculture and agribusiness.
“NIRSAL’s agro geo-cooperative concept is there to solve issues of linking farmers to markets, inputs, machinery, etc.
“The truth is that millions of our farmers are into subsistence and we’ve to get them out.
Under NIRSAL agro geo-cooperative concept, we want to empower farmers scattered around villages and hamlets through social engineering and this is a platform AFAN has created. AFAN knows the farmers, we know the executives of AFAN, so we will come up with a roadmap that works for both parties and ultimately be beneficial to Nigerians.
“We can take the roadmap to financiers or input or machinery suppliers to say we know AFAN and their operational strategy works for us. We can attest to what they are doing and guarantee it. That’s the essence of this partnership. Nigeria will be best for it”, he said.
Responding, AFAN President, Mr Farouk Rabiu Mudi said NIRSAL described NIRSAL as the home and mother of farmers.
He said AFAN comprises all farmers in all segments like rice, poultry, cattle, fish and others.
He said: NIRSAL is a credit to the Agricultural Promotion Policy of the Federal Government and deserves the support of every patriotic stakeholder and the general public.
“NIRSAL is doing what Nigerian farmers have been praying for so long: convincing the banks and other financial institutions to invest more in agriculture.
NIRSAL doesn’t take any budget from government and yet it contributes so much value to the sector and the entire economy. This is critical because, without funds, it is impossible to move Nigerian agriculture to agribusiness; without funds, we cannot improve the welfare of farmers who are feeding a nation of 200 million people.
“The fact that NIRSAL has facilitated over N100 billion into agriculture is no joke and we as farmers are very happy and grateful. I want to use this opportunity to also commend the efforts of the Central Bank whose Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele is the Chairman of NIRSAL.
“We are happy that the CBN under Governor Emefiele has made agriculture the cornerstone of its developmental agenda as reflected in the resources and attention that have been invested in the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“AFAN will work with NIRSAL to popularize and institutionalize the innovative Agro Geo-Cooperatives concept of NIRSAL so that Nigerian farmers across the country can start benefiting from the implementation of the scheme”.