The Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, Wednesday, disclosed of assisting 8 million farmers with its new AgroGeocooperative concept to lift them out of poverty through the 21st-century agribusiness practice.
This was made known by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed while receiving a delegation of the new executive of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, led by the President, Farouk Rabiu Mudi, at its headquarters in Abuja.
According to Abdulhameed, NIRSAL deemed it necessary to come up with the AgroGeocooperative concept in order to solve smallholder farmer financing, risk management challenges, and generally to lift them out of poverty.
He said: “It is critical at this junction for the visit to happen and it so happen that we are also developing a brand new concept called the AgroGeocooperative concept, which we believe is the panacea to solving the issuance of smallholder financing, risk management, and generally to lift them out of poverty.
“The truth of the matter is the millions of our farmers are still doing subsistence agriculture and there is no way they can connect with the modern 21st-century agriculture supply chain to service the industrial market in Nigeria, domestic market and export market if we don’t uplift them out of their business-as-usual methods of doing agriculture.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is doing it’s best making sure farmers get funding a very low cost.
“Under the NIRSAL AgroGeocooperative concept, we intend to organise about 8 million farmers on about 4 million hectares to give 16, 000
AgroGeocooperatives. Now this number is huge and we are not claiming we can do it in one year, but we have started the journey, activated the process, leveraging on science and technology, and a special system to do that.
“At the end of the day it boils down to the woman in the village and we can do that on the platform of AFAN. The AFAN executives know the farmers and I extend my hand of fellowship to AFAN executive and we are sure we can achieve it.
“For the foreseeable future I don’t want to put any specific timeline, but we will be starting activities this year, it will reach 8 million farmers on 4 million hectares for creating 16, 000 geo cooperatives it is not a one-year event but a multi-year event, in fact, it is a strategic objective.
“The tactical plans is what you seeing us doing with AFAN because there is no way NIRSAL alone can do this lifting except we go publishing and therefore we are happy to have AFAN side-by-side.
“We are going to do a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to show exactly how this collaboration will happen, and I am sure the AFAN President will explain the spread and reach of AFAN because they are all over the country.
However, he also explained that NIRSAL will reach the 8 million smallholder farmers on a short, medium and long term plan, but in collaboration with AFAN.
“This is the smartest way of reaching the farmers. The 8 million farmers, 4 million hectares and 16, 000 geocoops is a short, medium and long term plan, and we achieve those numbers we will be reporting.
“The geo corp is a solution to really get smallholder farmers organised, structured and governed so that they can be visible to financing. When farmers are scattered on their own remotely which bank, the market will know them and how can they bargain for quality seeds and fertilizer?
“When you go to the field these farmers are neighbours to each other, operating under the same climate, soil and the same community but everyone is doing their own thing, not even a single commodity.
“With that way they cannot do agribusiness. Geocooperative is different from the cooperative people to come together to form. Geo means earth; you can only be a farmer when you own the land, and not a farmer without a land. What we are saying come together and give us 10 hectares, bloc of 50 hectares or give me a cooperative of 250 hectares.”
Meanwhile, he also assured AFAN delegate of assisting in developing its proposed roadmap.
“We have no option but to say yes. Not only are we going to develop the roadmap in conjunction with AFAN but what you will do now is you will submit your thoughts and concepts to our team. We will review the entire concept and lay our thoughts on it”, he said.
Meanwhile, the newly elected AFAN President, Farouk Mudi, commended NIRSAL for facilitating over N100bn to farmers, and promised to collaborate with NIRSAL to make life meaningful for farmers in the country.
“For we are collaborating with NIRSAL I am telling you we are going to create a revolution in agriculture and economy of the nation.
“Without funds we cannot improve the welfare of the farmers who are feeding the nation of 200 million or over.
“The fact that NIRSAL has facilitated over N100 billion in agriculture is not a joke and we as farmers we are very happy and grateful to NIRSAL.
“We want to also use this opportunity to commend the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and Managing Director of NIRSAL.
“We are happy that the CBN and Emefiele for making agriculture his developmental agenda as reflected in the resources and attention being invested in the Anchor Borrowers Programme”, Mudi stated.
On the proposed roadmap, he said the document has become imperative for sustainable development of the sector in terms of food production, security, wealth creation, and job creation.
“Anybody that comes into power there is no roadmap and he doesn’t know how to govern farmers that is why we said it is our responsibility and came to NIRSAL because we know NIRSAL who protects and guarantees us as farmers, and NIRSAL is the home of farmers.
“We are here to plan the roadmap and share it with the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Trade, Water Resources, and every other sector in agribusiness.
“We will seek a law that will back up the roadmap so that anybody who is appointed Minister is expected to follow it.
“The roadmap will be for at least a minimum of 10 years and that is what we will do”, he said.