By Favour Nnabugwu
Managing Director of the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed has lamented that Nigeria lacks the full capital to actualize its potentials in agriculture.
Aliyu Abdulhameed at the first Annual NACCIMA-NIRSAL Agribusiness and Policy Linkage Conference with the theme: Implementing the Agriculture Component of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) in Abuja.
Abdulhameed Aliyu noted that this development posed a threat to government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which aims at increasing annual agricultural growth from 2011-2015 output of 4.1 per cent to 8.3 per cent by December 2020.
According to him, “We are naturally endowed with land, water, climate and the market and at very competitive levels, but we lack the full capital to actualise these opportunities. In order to leap frog the development as desired by the agricultural sector, fully identified actors have to be attracted into Nigeria.’’
He said though the country lacked the funds for infrastructure, logistics, storage and processing, NIRSAL was established to share all the risks associated with funding across the value chain.
“At the heart of its functions is its role in facilitating and increasing the flow of commercial revenue and investment in agriculture and fixing the broken value chains which are impediments in achieving increased financial investments.”
She said further, “The objective is to raise commercial bank lending and other investments from three per cent as it is today to about 10 per cent by the year 2026, we want to see how we can mobilize up to six billion dollars annually into the Nigerian agribusiness sector.’’
He added NIRSAL was in partnership with Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) to promote strategic approaches in solving endemic challenges that appear in the process of increasing agricultural financing.
In her address, wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo called for more collaboration between the public-private sectors to boost food production in the country.
Mrs Osinbajo stressed the need for increased collaboration between the organised private and public sector including the financial institutions to increase food production for the Nigerian populace.
According to her, “I have been reliably informed that Nigeria has made giant strides in agriculture especially in rice production, which is one of our favorite foods in Nigeria. The president, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) said that Nigeria’s rice production has increased. He attributed this increase to the Federal Government’s anchor borrower’s programme.
Osinbajo noted that “the achievement recorded was as a result of the collective effort put together by all the relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector and the hard work of our farmers.”
She, however, emphasised the need for a stronger collaboration among stakeholders to team up to answer the call of Nigerians who are daily asking for means to feed themselves and get meaningful employment opportunities.
On her part, Mrs Alaba Lawson, President, NACCIMA said there was an urgent need for the country to drive a structural economic transformation with emphasis on improving both the public and private sector efficiency.
According to her, “we organised this conference which is aimed at maximising agricultural productivity by increasing public awareness of the potential in agriculture. This is also by generating new commercial agricultural technologies that meets local market needs while advocating for improved data collection and evidence based reporting and monitoring to evaluate the progress of agriculture promotion policy.”
She said the opportunity in the agricultural sector in Nigeria was vast with a population of 180 million people, adding that the market for agricultural services was very huge.
Lawson stated that “within the agric programme, government is set to open a minimum of 100, 000 hectares of irritable land by 2020 and this will develop the youth for commercial farming and aquaculture.”
Lawson called on government Ministries, Departments and Agencies involved in the implementation of key activities in the economy to swiftly and efficiently implement the programme.
This, she said, would provide an avenue through which assessment by the private sector and other stakeholders could be done to achieve the desired goal.