*Backs Corporation in its Agribusiness transformation mandate
The National Assembly is full of praise for Aliyu Abdulhameed, NIRSAL’s Managing Director/CEO, for his efforts in positioning the risk-management agency as the driver of agricultural development in Nigeria.
The commendation came during a visit by NIRSAL and its Management to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly whose Chairman, Honourable Oluwole Oke, expressed his pride in NIRSAL’s Managing Director, adding that NIRSAL had now found a friend in the form of the National Assembly.
Other committee members described Abdulhameed as a round peg in a round hole and a man of undoubted capacity. They also congratulated NIRSAL for its commendable performance in terms of agribusiness financing, noting that other agencies should learn from NIRSAL’s due diligence.
In his remarks to the Committee, Abdulhameed gave members an in-depth analysis on the rationale behind the creation of NIRSAL and importance thereof; NIRSAL’s mandate; and the agency’s transformative achievements in Nigeria’s agribusiness space.
Prior to the creation of NIRSAL, financiers were averse to lending to agriculture, citing perceived high risks in the sector, especially in the upstream segment of the agricultural value chain where primary production takes place; often referred to as the “black hole” in agriculture.
In response to these concerns and as part of efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economy from crude oil-dependence, the CBN formulated NIRSAL to catalyse the flow of much-needed financing into Agriculture by redefining, measuring, re-pricing and sharing agribusiness-related credit risk with financiers.
Abdulhameed noted that the CBN, in its foresight, established NIRSAL as a Public Liability Company registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act. This gave financial institutions more confidence and ease to do business with NIRSAL as opposed to the limited transactions they could enter into with public sector institutions and the legal complexities therein.
In terms of NIRSAL’s mandate, Abdulhameed informed the Committee that the agency is built on five broad pillars of Risk Sharing, Insurance, Technical Assistance, Incentives and Rating. These strategic pillars are geared towards increasing bank lending to the agricultural sector by over 6% in the short to medium term, hence, bridging the gap between the finance and agricultural sectors.
Principally, NIRSAL is facilitating finance to agriculture through its Credit Risk Guarantee (CRG). Through the CRG, NIRSAL shares either 30%, 50%, or 75% of agribusiness-related risk with financiers depending on the agricultural value chain segment receiving finance.
Through the NIRSAL CRG, NIRSAL has attracted investment into agribusiness and guaranteed 693 agribusiness loans worth USD502.4Million, paid NGN1.92Billion Interest Draw Back to 266 obligors, creating over 400,000 direct jobs and impacting over 2,000,000 lives in the process.
In terms of insurance, NIRSAL has developed and launched the Area Yield Index Insurance (AYII) product and protected up to NGN6.47Billion in revenues of 35,492 farmers over 37,399 hectares of land with NGN122Million paid out in compensation to farmers.
Furthermore, Abdulhameed pointed out that NIRSAL has facilitated the granting of licenses to five insurance companies by Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) to underwrite index-based Agricultural insurance.
Leveraging on its Technical Assistance pillar, NIRSAL builds the capacity of financiers and agricultural value chain operators on agricultural lending and Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) respectively. Accordingly, NIRSAL has trained 1,221 middle Management and Agric Desk Officers of commercial banks and provided training on GAP to 700,000 farmers and 74 Extension Workers.
Continentally, NIRSAL has overseen the establishment of Risk Sharing Facility (RSF) models for African Countries under the aegis of the African Development Bank (AfDB), and recently, concluded the setup of the Togo Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (TIRSAL), known locally as Mécanisme Incitatif de Financement Agricole Fondé sur le Partage de Risques (MIFA).
Other African countries have also sought NIRSAL’s guidance on how to set up similar agribusiness risk-sharing sharing models. They include Ghana and Benin among others.
The committee has also tasked NIRSAL on tackling the issue of postharvest losses by strengthening commodity exchange systems in which farmers can trade their commodities round-the-clock.
Coincidentally, NIRSAL recently partnered with Wema bank and Cellulant for the development and deployment of a commodity financing model designed to link smallholder farmers in the upstream segment of the value chain to community-based produce aggregators, and commodity buyers servicing the downstream segment.
Based on the success of the deliberation, the Committee has recommended a workshop whereby NIRSAL will enlighten both the Senate and House of Representatives who will in turn educate their constituents, and by extension, all Nigerians, on NIRSAL’s operations for smallholder farmers continued benefit and poverty alleviation.