Uche Usim, Abuja
The push for guaranteed food security in Nigeria got a boost on Tuesday when the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), secured a N4.5 billion facility from three commercial banks towards supporting smallholder farmers across the country.
The facility was pooled by Stanbic IBTC, Union Bank and Sterling Bank under the Mapping-to-Markets (M2M) strategy; a sustainable smallholder inclusive approach towards agricultural transformation in Nigeria.
Speaking at a workshop involving key actors in the maize and soybean value chains, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Abdulhameed Aliyu, revealed that nine states in Nigeria have already completed soil mapping in their domains, assuring that the agency will fund the project across the remaining states in Nigeria as part of its technical support; especially now that hybrid seeds are available.
The soil mapping compliant states are; Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Kebbi, Ebonyi, Taraba, Kwara, Niger and Benue.
Aliyu a said plans were afoot to end seasonal farming in Nigeria as NIRSAL was developing solar powered irrigation system that can water 300 hectares of farmland in a location for farmers across Nigeria.
He said: “NIRSAL’s mandate to fix broken agricultural value chains, facilitate finance and build long-term capacity cannot be achieved without the alignment of interests of actors across relevant value chain segments towards ensuring increased productivity and increased financial returns in a manner that delivers inclusive economic growth and development.
“It is interesting to note that under this single pilot project and as a result of our deliberations and interactions, we have been able to extract significant commitments to be executed in this 2019 wet season:
3,750 hectares of brown-field farmland pledged by Benue, Niger and Ekiti states.
“N4.5 billion has already been pledged in available funding to smallholder farmers by Stanbic, Union Bank and Sterling Bank under the M2M initiative.
“3,750 farmers will be supported across these three states. Over 107.5 metric tonnes of seeds worth approximately N65.5 million will be supplied by seed companies. 2,062 metric tonnes of fertilizer worth about N290 million will be made available by the fertilizer companies.