Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement and Action (MoA) with The Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) – a US$200million World Bank funded Project – for the development, financing, and support of de-risked and optimized agribusiness projects.
In line with the project development objective of APPEALS, NIRSAL will layer its Tools, Techniques, Methodologies and strategic Partnerships (TTMPs) according to its Mapping to Markets (M2M) strategy on the project, with the shared aim of enhancing agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improvement of value addition along the cassava, cashew, rice, poultry, aquaculture, cocoa, wheat, tomato, maize, ginger and dairy value chains in a sustainable manner.
The project, which is to be deployed in Cross River, Enugu, Lagos, Kogi, Kaduna, and Kano States, targets 60,000 beneficiaries, and 360,000 farm household members as indirect beneficiaries. It is anticipated that 35% of direct beneficiaries (or 21,000 individuals) will be women. Additionally, the project has a dedicated sub-component to benefit women and youth that will allow them develop agri-businesses that are expected to create jobs and improve their livelihoods.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL Plc, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, assured APPEALS that, in NIRSAL, they have found a trustworthy, reliable, and capable partner that shares the Project’s Development Objective of enhancing the agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improving value addition along priority value chains in participating States.
Providing more insight on the proposed areas of collaboration, Abdulhameed stated that NIRSAL will “deploy its technologies towards the formation of Agro-Geo-Cooperatives for selected commodity value chains through geospatial mapping, soil suitability tests, BVN enrolment for farmers in addition to the creation of Virtual Asset Titles (VAsT), establishment of field governance structures, and training of farmers on good agronomic practices, team dynamics and social engineering.”
NIRSAL will also link producers to relevant consumer, industrial and export markets through value chain roundtables, business deal facilitation meetings, and legally binding trade documentation. Abdulhameed added that NIRSAL will work with the State teams to structure agribusiness projects patterned after agreed sustainable models for APPEALS’ financing while deploying NIRSAL’s partnerships and models for Technology demonstration and adoption.
To protect primary producers under the project from losses due to pest, diseases, adverse weather conditions and general drops in expected yields, NIRSAL will deploy its Area Yield Index Insurance product.
Furthermore, Abdulhameed pointed out that, to ensure business sustainability, NIRSAL will extend its technical advice to the APPEALS Project with a view to instilling business discipline, adoption of a mandatory savings culture and reinvestment of profits for sustainability and expansion in the beneficiaries.
The National Project Coordinator of the APPEALS Project and Director of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr Amin Babandi, also speaking at the ceremony, expressed his excitement at what he described as a “turning point” in the project’s life cycle.
He said: “Through this agreement, I am confident that APPEALS will achieve its set targets of impacting at least 60,000 and 360,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries respectively.” This, he noted, would bring about the livelihood improvement that APPEALS was created for.
On his part, the World Bank Task Team Leader of the APPEALS Project, Dr. Sheu Salau, thanked NIRSAL for supporting the project with its technological know-how, expertise, and depth of knowledge in agribusiness.
He further noted that, to achieve its objective of enhancing agricultural productivity and improving value addition, APPEALS would focus on production and productivity enhancement; primary processing, value addition, post-harvest management and women and youth empowerment; infrastructure support to agri-business clusters; technical assistance, knowledge management and communication; and project management and coordination.
APPEALS is being coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and implemented by a National Coordination Office and six State Coordination Offices.
In carrying out activities geared towards fixing broken agricultural value chains according to its mandate, NIRSAL continues to establish strategic partnerships. The MoA signing with APPEALS is one of such collaborations.
NIRSAL recently signed an agreement with FADAMA III-AF – another World Bank project – for the management of its Agricultural Infrastructure through the NIRSAL/MECA (Machines and Equipment Corporation Africa) joint mechanization program – the NIRSAL Comprehensive Agricultural Mechanization Program (NCAMP).