In continuation of its efforts in fixing broken agricultural value chains in Nigeria, NIRSAL Plc lent its support to the just concluded validation workshop organised by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP) held earlier this week, in Kaduna.
The workshop focused on validating identified capacity gaps related to implementing the Holistic Empowerment for Livelihood Program (HELP), a program developed by the FARA as part of its South-South collaboration strategy to boost agriculture in Africa. The initiative offers African countries an opportunity to take advantage of the technological prowess of countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, China, Egypt, and India to improve their agricultural practices, particularly within the livestock, rice, cotton and cassava value chains.
In a goodwill message, NIRSAL’s Managing Director, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, highlighted the importance of research for innovation, its adoption, and scaling it up particularly in the pre-upstream segment of the Agricultural value chain. He opined that “If properly fixed, the Pre-upstream segment would help to optimize value in the other segments namely: Upstream (Primary production and Primary Post-Harvest Processing), Midstream (Value-added Processing, Logistics, and Wholesale) and Downstream (Consumer, Industrial, and Export Markets).”
During the workshop, NIRSAL shared with participants some of its innovative approaches, Tools, Techniques, Methodologies and Partnerships (TTMPs) which the organisation has designed and is deploying for upgraded agricultural primary production, smallholder farmer engagement, agricultural value chain upgrade, integration, and development, as well as agricultural value chain financing.
In the words of Mr Abdulhameed, “We are deploying world-class technological capabilities for field mapping of agricultural commodity endemic areas, acquiring geospatial data using satellite technology which enables us to direct financial and technical support to farming areas with highest yield potentials.”
He went on to reveal that NIRSAL has established a desk exclusively for youth, NIRSAL Youth in Innovative Agribusiness (NYIA). The framework identifies, proposes and pursues agricultural funds and initiatives that target Nigerian youths in addition to working with proximal universities around NIRSAL’s Agro Geo-clusters.
Painting a scenario where NIRSAL’s engagement with university students is operationalized, he revealed the ongoing use of Geospatial mapping to aggregate 4 million hectares of arable land (around the grain belt as a pilot) that will be broken down into 16,000 Geo-Cooperatives of 250 hectares each, and further down to Agro Geo-Cells of 50 Hectares all with governance structures. The university students will then provide agri-business services to these leaders who will in turn cascade same to the farmers in their Agro Geo-Cells.
At an average yield of 4 tonnes per hectare, these optimized smallholder farmers production will generate a gross output of grain product equivalent of about 16 million tonnes. At a conservative value of N100,000 per tonne of grain, it will result to N1.6 trillion gross revenue from the 4 million hectares. The Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL enthused that this approach will capture the interest of the undergraduates and imbue them with practical skills to carry on their own agribusinesses after graduation.
Abdulhameed concluded by expressing NIRSAL’s motivation which he says “lies in the expectation that NIRSAL, FARA and ARDP working together with the State Governments, Research Institutes and other critical stakeholders, would make a significant contribution, not only in fixing broken agricultural value chains but ultimately eliminating extreme poverty, achieving food self-sufficiency and turning Nigeria into a net food exporter.
In line with its mandate of creating a handshake between Agriculture and Finance, NIRSAL further took part in the roundtable discussions with ARDP, FARA, ECOWAS-Brazil Chamber of Commerce, State Government Executives from Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto states, Bayero University, Ahmadu Bello University and African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) to validate the identified capacity gaps in the selected agricultural value chain, cross-cutting issues as well as optimizing sustainable funding of the agricultural sector.
Attendees of the conference include key actors in Africa, Brazil, policy makers, captains of industries, large, medium and small-scale agribusiness enterprises, universities, research institutions and consumers
Anne Ihugba Head, Coporate Communications