• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

NIRSAL empowers local farmers to boost Nigeria’s wheat production

Farmers see security, others piling pressure on Nigeria’s agric sector in 2024

Nigeria’s Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending Plc (NIRSAL) has kicked off an initiative to boost wheat production in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security to enhance Nigeria’s food security agenda.

The initiative focuses on training extension agents and farmers under the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket (NAGS-AP)/Jigawa Wheat Cluster Project, according to a statement on Monday by NIRSAL.

The first phase of the training, held in four of the five emirates in Jigawa State, saw the participation of 355 extension agents and 706 farmer cluster leaders from key regions. The participants are expected to transmit the knowledge gained and the training materials received to the members of their respective clusters.

Abbas Umar Masanawa, the Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL Plc, emphasized the importance of the training, highlighting the alignment with the Federal Government’s vision for food security.

Masanawa expressed NIRSAL’s commitment to supporting states like Jigawa through capacity building and various means such as training, database building, and innovation.

“We are contributing our expertise by preparing these extension agents and farmers to make a success out of this collective endeavour for Jigawa’s and Nigeria’s sakes”, the statement quoted him saying.

Masanawa added that NIRSAL Plc does not intend to stop at capacity building alone, recalling his recent visit to the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, where he pledged support for the food security agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria through training, database building, innovation and more.

The first module in its capacity-building package focused on Group Dynamics, with NIRSAL expecting the Project Implementation Committee and Extension Agents to adopt a geo-cooperative approach to cluster formation. Under this approach, farmers come together based on their land assets’ contiguity and willingness to work together. The module, therefore, exposed them to the possible challenges and the designed solutions.

The participants were also taught effective produce aggregation as a critical success factor.

Ibrahim Suleiman, leader of the delegation of trainers from NIRSAL, noted that optimal value capture at the farm level is fundamental to obtaining and repaying loans. “Once that is guaranteed”, he said, “other processes leading up to value addition and sale can be controlled efficiently for the determination of profits, sharing of same, and the prompt repayment of loans”.

Also included in the modules for the training program is a dive into possible protocol breaches and the early warning systems put in place to address them. Suleiman stressed that early warning systems are essential for detecting and arresting any issues capable of derailing the project before they blossom.

Muttaka Namadi, the State Commissioner of Agriculture, who is supervising performance, commended NIRSAL for its commitment to the Jigawa Wheat project, counting on the support to lead to the success of the project.

The NIRSAL Plc further noted that the Jigawa State Government is also collaborating with the African Development Bank, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, and some Super Agro Dealers supplying the inputs to improve production.

NIRSAL Plc, established to de-risk agriculture and facilitate commercial finance for agribusiness in Nigeria, noted that it has developed several models for de-risking primary production in what it considers “the upstream segment of the agricultural value chain” against the backdrop of banks’ aversion to financing primary production because of the inherent risks.