- TO BOOST FOOD PRODUCTION, INCLUSIVE GROWTH AND REDUCE FOOD IMPORT BILL
In continuation of its mandate to de-risk and increase the flow of private sector finance into the agriculture sector, the Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has announced plans to facilitate finance to optimize the land, infrastructure and water resources within the 11 existing River Basins Development Authorities (RBDAs) with a total of 539,182ha of irrigable land spanning across 28 states. This is to be done through a strategic partnership with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
The partnership is projected to ensure full and sustainable utilization of the very important economic assets of the RBDAs which have remained sub-optimally utilized for decades. The increased optimization will help to achieve the objectives of the Agricultural Promotion Policies of the Buhari administration and the policy objectives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture by significantly increasing food production of basic food staples like rice, soyabeans, maize, increase food exports.
The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed stated this last Friday February 12, 2017 in Abuja while making a presentation at a retreat organized by the Ministry of Water Resources for new management staff of the country’s River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs). Also present at the event were the Honorable Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh and his counterpart, the Honorable Minister of Water Resources Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, the convener of the Retreat.
According to Mr. Abdulhameed the collaboration was at the instance of the Honorable Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh as part of its efforts to achieve the goals of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) of the Buhari administration. Specifically, he stated that the strategic partnership of the two relevant institutions will preserve scarce foreign exchange by ensuring food sufficiency, reducing the multi-billion annual food import bill put at $11billion per annum while at the same time ensuring inclusive growth, economic diversification and food security.
His words:” The main objective of this partnership will be to utilize the abundant resources of the River Basin Authorities to drive the Agriculture Promotion policy of the Buhari administration, which includes diversification of the economy and assurance of food security and consolidation of the national import substitution agenda. NIRSAL resources would be focused on facilitating flow of credit and investment for key production operations and revitalization of existing wasting assets within each RBA”
He further stated that NIRSAL will support the partnership agenda and operations with an aggressive but structured investment drive under appropriate medium term lease options for land and water assets, capacity building for its critical actors to gain new/improved knowledge experience, innovative funding, technology (including mechanization and precision farming support tools), structured market window and agribusiness management advisory services.
Mr. Abdulhameed, commended the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh for providing strong policy and political support to the partnership and also commended the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu for his result-oriented leadership of the ministry.
Also speaking much earlier at the event, Chief Audu Ogbeh pointed out that the strategic partnership between the Ministry of Water Resources and NIRSAL will unlock the massive potentials of the River Basins that have been laying in limbo for decades. He expressed confidence in the capacity of NIRSAL to put together a sustainable and robust financing framework that will encourage large scale investment in the land and infrastructure of the country’s River Basins.
His Words: “The coming together of the Ministry of Water Resources and NIRSAL marks a new dawn for the River Basin Development Authorities. NIRSAL will ensure that finance which has long held down the development of the assets will now no longer be the biggest problem. I encourage all parties to work closely to see that we bring positive change to these immense national assets so that we can ensure food security, self-sufficiency, boost exports, stop imports of staples we can produce here and re-build our economy, from the ground up”
He stated that the Buhari administration and his ministry is fully committed to the success of this initiative and expressed his readiness to assist wherever necessary to make this a reality.
On his part, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu thanked both the Minister of Agric, Chief Audu Ogbeh and the MD NIRSAL for the collaboration. He advised the new Management of the RBDAs to leverage the recommendations in the Roadmap as well as the potentials of the collaboration to restore the river basins to their original mandate.
Bello Abdullahi Abba
Coordinator Research & Strategy