By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief

ABUJA—The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, has the solution to the debilitating clashes between herdsmen and crop farmers across the nation.

The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, said this in Abuja.

NIRSAL recently sealed agricultural financing deals with Stanbic/IBTC and Union Banks worth N20 billion.  Each of the two banks has made available N10 billion to boost the nation’s agri-business value chain.

According to him, once appropriate ranches are created for the herders to keep their cattle in the same place and feed them well enough, the clashes would be eliminated.

He said that ranching would also guarantee high milk production and that the cows would grow fatter, which would translate to more meat and more money for cattle owners, as well as, greater contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.

He said: “NIRSAL has the solution to the clashes between herdsmen and crop farmers.  The clashes are because of the herders’ nomadic lives.  Put them in a location; do a basic feed finishing, put them in one place.  Let them eat, drink, sleep and put on weight.  That weight is money for us. If they eat and walk around, they waste the energy and don’t put on weight.  They lose weight.”

“If we can do feed finishing for cattle, for example, on annual basis, that N10 billion from Union Bank will result in about 160, 000 bulls being fattened, 16, 000 direct jobs, will be created and 80, 000 lives that will depend on those 16, 000 direct jobs will be affected.  I hope everyone has understood what that N10 billion means to agriculture.”

Feeding 180m Nigerians big business- Emuwa

While signing the deal, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Union Bank Plc, Mr. Emeka Emuwa, said that the decision to invest the N10 billion into agricultural financing was based on the bank’s conviction that there huge opportunities inherent in the nation’s agric-business.

According to him, feeding 180 million Nigerians alone present great business opportunities and that his organization was prepared to invest, even more in the sector, once the initial investment had good returns.

He said, “If you think of Nigeria, we are 180 million people. That tells you the scope of opportunities that exist.  I think we have a large capacity to feed ourselves and we have to.  What we are doing today is part of efforts to feed ourselves.  If we feed ourselves, we create opportunities for ourselves, as well.

“In the past, there had been times, when it was felt that lending to agriculture, you couldn’t see what you were putting your money into.  Part of the role of NIRSAL is to shine the light so that we can all see where we are putting our money into.

“Agriculture is the engine that drives many Africa economies.  It is the largest employer of labour in  African economies, employing about 65 per cent of the population.  A lot of people depend on agriculture.  It is therefore, in our interest to make sure that agriculture continues to do well.

“One of the major challenges of agriculture is funding.  It is improving but still remains a challenge.  It is in response to that that we have are launching this partnership with NIRSAL.  This partnership is the beginning.  We expect that as it evolves the more that we see that the outcome of this partnership is positive, the more we will be willing and able to expand the size of this partnership.

“Our focus will be enhancing post-production, processing capacity to curb post-harvest losses and to provide market access to small–holder farmers, which in itself, has been a limiting factor. Farmers are producing but not able to get their produce to the market is one of the things that we seek to support.”

The GMD added that with NIRSAL taking off 75 per cent risk in the deal, he was convinced that Nigerian businesses that would benefit from the funding would easily make good use of the facilities to be placed at their disposal.

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