Youths Development through Rural Farming

About 500 million young people – about half of the youth population of developing countries – living in rural areas are prone to poverty, inequality and are faced with a range of challenges.
These challenges include lack of training and skills, limited access to land and credit, scarce inputs and restricted links to social networks.

These challenges, however, can be turnaround with Agroecological potential in their environment.
Speaking ahead of the G7 meeting held recently in Paris, France, the President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), President, Gilbert Houngbo, had said, “No stability in the Sahel without rural development and job creation for young people, economic transformation of rural areas and the creation of jobs for millions of young rural people are pre-conditions to stability in the Sahel.”

The president, who took the message to the ministerial meeting on development, stated that if given the opportunity, young rural people could drive development in their communities. “We need the right policies and investments in place before they can have any hope of doing so,” he said.

According to IFAD, in the Sahel, the number of young people is unprecedented, with over 60 per cent of the population below 25 years of age, two thirds of youth live in rural areas and are poorer and more often lack access to employment, skills, financial services and technology than adults.

According to Houngbo, failing to act has given rise to a lost generation of young people without hope or direction, which contributes to an increased risk of forced economic migration and fragility.
The IFAD 2019 Rural Report added that among rural, semi-rural and peri-urban young people, 67 per cent live in areas with strong agricultural potential, but many have limited access to markets.

According to the report, “With greater access to skills training, markets, financial services and technologies, these young people could become more productive, connected and in charge of their own future. It however warns that policy-makers need to act quickly, pointing to the impacts of climate change on agriculture, the need to seize the opportunities presented by the digital revolution, and the growing aspirations and demands of young people themselves.”

Nigerian Agriculture Promotion Policy This policy which was to build on the Successes of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the previous government by closing key gaps identified, was also to provide a disciplined approach to building an agribusiness ecosystem.

Many people say Nigerian economy is blessed with series of natural resources, yet they suffer in the midst of plenty. Currently, Nigeria has over 80 per cent of its land arable but of which less than 40 per cent of the land is cultivated despite the country’s teeming population and level of unemployment.

In a paper presentation titled, “Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020 and Rural Development in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects,” by Felix Ojong and Bassey Anam, Department of Sociology, Institute of Public Policy and Administration, University of Calabar; agreed that the challenge facing the Nigerian agricultural sector is historical.

According to them, judging from previous experiences of inadequate implementation of development policies in Nigeria and further assessing the policy framework of the Nigeria Promotion Policy, there are a lot of concerns.

“These issues are central and must be addressed to ensure the prospects of implementing the policy for the general wellbeing of the Nigerian rural economy.

“The Nigerian rural economy is still faced with the challenge of subsistent farming. “This affects the inability to meet domestic food requirements in rural Nigeria. Although there is a provision for private partnership in this regard, the policy has not stated in clear terms how the vulnerable rural poor will be able to access farming support programmes without collaterals.

“Food processing issues also affect the prospects of Agriculture Promotion Policy in Nigeria. It is estimated that about 20-40 per cent of the yearly harvest is lost during processing. The primary cause is the lack of efficient harvesting techniques,” they stated.

They further noted that most rural farmers harvest crops by hand, instead of using machines. Also, storage methods are not generally up to standards. They noted that most of the crops are lost to physical damage caused by insects, bacteria, or fungus. They writers insisted that Nigeria must adopt modern technology in food storage and rural farmers must be trained accordingly

Generally, there is less incentive for local farmers to grow local foods when cheaper, more palatable foods are imported. This forces local farmers to reduce prices, which reduces the income generated by the farm. The consequence is decreased farm production.

To combat the effects of imported food on development, several initiatives are suggested, including providing farmers with micro-credit that is subsidised and increasing tariffs on imported food.

Agricultural Comparative Advantage
Adding his voice recently, the U.S. Consul General in Lagos, Mr. John Bray, urged Nigeria to leverage on its vast agricultural potential to create wealth and boost its economy.

Bray added: “The task before Nigeria is to show the world its enormous potential in agriculture. Nigeria needs to use agriculture to create wealth, employment and grow its economy, U.S. is doing that and Nigeria can do that too.

“In the next 50 years, what produce will be known around the world as a signature product from Nigeria? Would it be shea butter, tiger nut, cashew or palm oil; Nigeria has the comparative advantage in these produce and more and should explore it the same way the US explored cranberry potential to create wealth,” he said

Unhealthy Trends
But, Mr. Taiwo Agboola, who resides in Ilorin, said, most of the youths in the rural areas are not willing and ready to go to farm any more, all they are interested in is how to make quick money.
He said also that within Ganmo community, in Ifelodun Local Government Area (LGA), Kwara State, they prepare to engage in selling of land handed over to the them by their forefathers.

According to him, “However those ones who are willing and ready to farm, they do not have enough resources to buy farm tools, as most of them engage in traditional mode of farming; so they do not have capital to buy cutlass, holes, fertilizer.

“The few once that are into this farming get to a stage where they become tired and this is discouraging because they are using traditional ways of farming.

“Due to the strenuous nature of farming with crude implement and local techniques, farming has become very tedious for today’s youths,” he explained.

On what could be done to help rural youths that are ready to improve their livelihood through farming, Agoola noted that was not all about money, stressing the importance of education and training on modern farming techniques like Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).

Stakeholders Engagement
Recently, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, called on stakeholders in the agriculture sector to see agriculture as a combination of business and development platform by concentrating on value chains where the state has comparative advantage.
This, according to him, would enable them develop strategic partnership that would stimulate investment in the state.

Lawal, who stated this at an ‘Agricultural Stakeholders Engagement,’ meeting in Lagos, said the state government was committed to ensuring the attainment of food sufficiency.

He said that the stakeholders’ engagement was convened in order to, “provide syndrome in policy decision making in governance,” adding that the contributions and inputs of major stakeholders were important towards the attainment of the state’s THEME agenda for the agricultural sector.

The commissioner noted that the goal was to train 15,000 people with the expected outcome of creating capacity to serve consumer demands and with an expected output of large scale dissemination of productivity-increasing capacity program and increase investment into enabling infrastructure and capacity building.

He listed some of the current initiatives of the state government in the sector to include the establishment of 32 tonnes per hour rice mill at Imota; the Lagos –Kebbi states collaboration on rice value chain development; Agricultural Based Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric-YES ); Agric-YES Songhai Model ; Farm Estates Initiative – Fishery, Poultry, Piggery and Vegetables; Quality Input Supply with Robust Business Model and the collaboration with Development Partners such as World Bank assisted Project (APPEALS), DAWN Commission and CBN among others.

“A state with food security and improved nutrition will no doubt achieve sufficiency in comparative advantage of food staples and sufficient market infrastructure that will also ensure competitiveness thereby being the catalyse flows of agricultural finance through increased partnerships with multilateral and donor agencies.” he noted.

“I have no doubt in my mind that this will lead to increased IGR for the state government on one hand as well as leverage potential of other states and access to the Lagos markets. A well-funded private sector capable of scaling emergent agri-business successes will lead to increased inclusivity and sustainable practices,” the Commissioner noted.

The Special Adviser to the Lagos Governor on Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, also commended the stakeholders at the engagement session for willing to collaborate with the state government in developing the roadmap that would guide and reshape the role of agriculture in Lagos.

Similarly, the Yobe state government also organised its first agricultural retreat so as to formulate implementation strategies for the state government.

The committee would be chaired by Professor Abba Gambo, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Yobe State University, Damaturu.

He said, as in many states across the country, majority of the people in Yobe State engage in farming as a primary source of livelihood, describing agriculture as the linchpin of the nation’s economy.

He also said, “at a time when our country continues to look for ways to diversify the economy, create more jobs and lift people out of poverty, it does not seem as if we are making the best of agriculture as the best alternative for wealth creation. “Despite abundance of land and the energy of our people, agriculture here in Yobe State still remains largely subsistent.”


Nigeria seeks assistance in improving agric sector research

The Nigerian government has called for the assistance of its development partners in intensifying researches in the country’s agricultural sector.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, made the call on Tuesday, according to a statement by the ministry.

Mr Nanono spoke while receiving a delegation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in his office.

The delegation was led by the Deputy Director, Agricultural Development, Tom Kehoe.

Mr Nanono said agricultural researches are critical to growth in the sector and would ensure food security in Nigeria and called for cooperation with the Foundation.

He said Nigeria is interested in cooperation with the Foundation in exploring economic opportunities for smallholder farmers.

He said the organisation can also assist the government in its efforts towards creating a business climate that would attract private sector investment and produce innovations that would enable Nigerian farmers to adapt to climate change.

The minister said the outcome of the researches would improve seedling for the Nigerian environment and boost food production in the country.

Mr Nanono further said researches would improve the agricultural value chain and help in increasing Internally Generated Revenue and alleviate poverty, which goals he said are key components of the Next Level agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.

The minister said researches would encourage standardisation of agricultural products in Nigeria and also develop capacity-building that would sustain the large population.

Earlier, Mr Kehoe spoke on the work of the Foundation in the Nigerian agricultural sector.

‘’Our investment is backing efforts to develop disease-resistant varieties that are more nutritious and can be easily processed to meet demands for cassava’s many commercial uses, which range from making bread and beer to bio-gradable packing,’’ he said.

He said the Foundation was “increasingly viewing agriculture investment through the lens of climate change and its impact on smallholder farmers.

“A key goal is to support innovations that can help farmers adapt,” he said.


Adesina says AfDB investing $25bn in agriculture, agribusiness

The African Development Bank (AfDB), says it is currently investing 25 billion dollars to help make agriculture and agribusiness Africa’s biggest industry.

The statement by the bank’s Communication and External Relations Department on Thursday, said the AfDB’s president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina made the disclosure at the ongoing Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) in Japan.

Adesina said the reason was not far-fetched and predicted that the size of food and agriculture would rise to one trillion dollars by 2030.

According to him, a lot of progress has been made in this renewed drive to transform agriculture on the continent

“The AfDB inaugurated the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to help ramp up technologies to millions of farmers.

“TAAT connects the global agricultural research centres, national agricultural research centres, private sector and agricultural value chains in Africa, in an unprecedented effort to connect the supply and demand side of technologies seamlessly.

“For the first time, accountability was built into the approach, with technology delivery compacts signed by all participating institutions and partners.

“TAAT partners, which include the World Bank, AGRA, IFAD and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have mobilised one billion dollars.

“The results are impressive. Last year alone, the TAAT maize compact helped to deliver water efficient maize across the Southern Africa region that was experiencing severe drought.

“Working with 30 private seed companies, the TAAT maize compact produced more than 27,000 tons of seeds of water efficient maize that was planted by 1.6 million farmers in just one year,’’he said.

He said Africa must feed itself and it must do more than that while the continent must also turn itself into a global power-house in food production.

According to him, the bank is working to turn agriculture into a business, one that creates wealth, jobs and delivers improved quality of life to millions of farmers.

“A business that transforms the rural economies of Africa from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity.

“While the Bank’s High 5s are to Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Lives of the People of Africa, much of my remarks will be limited to what it will take to Feed Africa,’’ he said. 


Nigeria asked to double investment in the agricultural sector

Dr Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has advised Nigeria to double investment in the agricultural sector.

In addition, Dr Sanginga said this should be backed by a vibrant rural infrastructural network development.

“No matter our good intentions, we will not see a transformation in agriculture if we continue to invest less than 10 per cent of our budget on agriculture,” Dr Sanginga said during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde, in Ibadan.

Speaking in Oyo State, Dr Sanginga noted that although African governments committed to investing at least 10 per cent of their annual budget in agriculture in Maputo, Mozambique in 2003, only a handful of these have fulfilled the promise.

“One of the countries that have fulfilled the commitment is Ethiopia…Ethiopia is today investing more than 10 per cent and that country is witnessing a rapid transformation in agriculture,” Dr Sanginga explained.

Making reference to the Oyo State Agricultural Policy framework, the IITA boss said that Oyo state’s investment in agriculture had nosedived from about 7 per cent to 2 per cent from 1995 to 2017, adding that the new administration needs to reverse the trend.

On rural infrastructure, Dr Sanginga said the government should pay close attention to rehabilitation of rural roads (feeder roads) to help the transportation of agricultural products from the farm to the markets.

He decried the deterioration of infrastructure in several farm settlements in Oyo state and urged the government to tackle the trend.

Dr Sanginga also called on the government to seek ways to involve the youths in agriculture, stressing that inclusiveness was imperative for sustainability in the agricultural development agenda of the state.

In his response, Governor Makinde commended the IITA DG for the courtesy visit and pledged the commitment of the state to work with IITA to achieve agricultural transformation.

The governor noted that his administration had identified four pillars: education, rural infrastructure, economic development (agriculture), and security to help bring the dividends of democracy to the people of Oyo state.

He noted that for the state to attain economic development, agriculture must be transformed.

“This is because most of our people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Besides, through agricultural transformation, we will be able to provide the needed jobs for our youths…the jobs we promised during the election campaigns,” he added.

On infrastructure, the governor said work on one of the major agricultural roads (Moniya to Iseyin) would commence soon. On completion, the road would ease the movement of farm produce to the market. He also said that discussions were in top gear with the federal government to rehabilitate the Oyo town-Iseyin road.

On the courtesy visit to the Governor were Drs Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships for Delivery); Alfred Dixon, Director for Development & Delivery; Tahirou Abdoulaye, Impact Economist; Godwin Atser, Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist; Toyin Oke, Manager, Resource Mobilization, Protocol and External Liaison; Oludamilare Odusanya and Adetola Adenmosun, IITA Youth Agripreneurs.

The meeting with the Governor was facilitated by Debo Akande, Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness.


How to tap opportunities in Nigeria’s agricultural value chain – Experts

Development partners and stakeholders in the agriculture sector have urged Nigeria to create sustainable development from untapped opportunities in the agricultural value chains in the country.

They spoke at a one-day Agricultural Investment Summit in Abuja on Tuesday.
The event was organised by Business Innovation Facility (BIF) in partnership with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the Convention on Business Integrity Limited.

BIF is a five-year (2014 – 2019) market systems development programme funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) with the aim to improve the lives of the poor in three countries: Malawi, Myanmar and Nigeria.

The programme tries to identify and address constraints in selected markets and provide technical assistance and grants to fund businesses and other market players.

One of the discussants at the summit was the Head of Economic Development Team and Senior Economic Adviser of the UK Department for International Development, Richard Ough.

He said the team had been applying sustainable approaches to give farmers access to tractors at an affordable rate to boost agricultural production in Nigeria. This he said the team does by partnering with tractor owners, such as Hello Tractors.

“In 2- 3 years, Nigeria would have more Agro-Tech facilities in the Agro-Tech sector than any other country in Africa,” he said.

Also speaking, Celestine Ayok of Spring Dairies said challenges and opportunities exist in livestock value chains.

According to him, the output of the livestock, water, grass and disease control are some of the challenges in this value chain. He said the challenges provide farmers with an opportunity to subscribe to commercial pasture production and artificial insemination to increase their income.

Mr Ayok said it is lack of water in the North that is making pastoralists to move with their animals towards the southern regions of Nigeria.

“If you have grass and there is no water, animals will move because almost half of their body is composed of water. An animal can stay up to 10-12 weeks without grasses, but three to four days without water is a disaster,” he said.

He said advocacy and sensitisation have to be properly executed to stop the incessant clashes between farmers and pastoralists in the country.

“If you asked me to stay at a point with my livestock not to move, then you must create a suitable environment for me,” he said.

Mr Ayok said Nigeria had functional dams in the 1970s and 80s but they are no longer capable of retaining enough water to compensate for the dry season. He called on the government to fix the dams in order to reduce the movement of livestock.

“Palletisation of grasses should be encouraged. Palletisation has an advantage, it takes care of dry season feeding and can be easily moved from region to region in bulks,” he said.

The Vice president of Lagos State catfish producers, Sejiro Oketojinu, encouraged fish farmers to feed their fishes with the nutritious feed in order to have healthy fishes.

“Lots of farmers don’t produce to meet the targeted market,” he said. “People don’t feed their fishes with their right nutrient that is why they don’t get the right results,” he said.

He unveiled some made in Nigeria properly packaged fish products in cans and advised farmers to do the same in order to add value to their produce.

In his remarks at the summit, the Country Director of BIF, Soji Apampa, said he looked forward to explaining some of the programme’s sustainable innovations to Nigerian lawmakers.

“If I have my ways, I will stand in front of the Red Chamber and explain to them how we can get a lot more out of their constituency projects and I will do the same thing at the lower chamber as well because they touch every single area of the country,” he said.


AFEX Nigeria Discusses Risk Management Approaches for Agricultural Finance and Trading

In its lineup of necessary issues to be discussed around agriculture and food security for the 2019 Agribusiness and Food Security Summit held on the 18th of July 2019 in Lagos, Nigeria, BusinessDay hosted a panel session on ‘Risk Management Approaches and Solutions in Agricultural Finance and Trading.’ Inherent in the theme for the session was a recognition of the dependency of Nigeria’s agricultural sector on collaboration between all stakeholders, who need to be supported by the right funding instruments and tools that are tailored to help deliver rapid growth and development. A key factor in this development can be identified as the various risk management approaches and solutions that are necessary to be implemented at all steps of the agriculture value chain.

Driving finance into the agricultural sector in Nigeria is a task with a high level of importance. The efficacy of interventions and solutions around agricultural finance and trading are, however, reduced drastically by the risks in the sector. Partnerships formed between industry players, banks, investors and the government reduce the risks, allow for economic exploitation of ideas and talents, and give rise to opportunities, which eventually form a risk management approach by extension. 

The panel, which was moderated by BusinessDay journalist Caleb Ojewale, included AFEX Nigeria’s Country Manager, Ayodeji Balogun alongside the CEO of NIRSAL Aliyu Abdulhameed, the ED of the Bank of Agriculture, Bode Abiyoke, the Director, Development Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Mudarshir Olaitan, and the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan. The discussion focused on investigating the current perceptions of risk management in agriculture by key stakeholders and then sketched out some of the innovative solutions currently emerging in the space. 

Addressing the risk in agricultural financing, Mr. Balogun stated that agriculture is a significant part of the Nigerian economy, which is still driven largely by fragmented crop production. Grouping the risks faced under macro and micro views, he identified food security, inflation, foreign exchange and economic diversification as concerns on a macro level while product availability, credit risks, business & cash flow risks were grouped under the micro level. Mr. Balogun also pointed out the effect of price volatility and low levels of loans/ credit to agriculture, stating that although the constraints to lending might be understandable, considering the instability and the unpredictable nature of the sector, it is clear that limited financing represents a severe impediment to the industry. 

Mr. Balogun then offered some solutions to the risk management process, listing some possible interventions that could be carried out on both the demand and supply side in the short, medium and long terms. Starting out with his proposed solutions, he explained that trades need to be logged on a trading platform for transparency and price discovery, with the application and processing systems automated for speed and independence. He also suggested that risk share facilities need to be put in place; a food security special intervention fund needs to be established; and the Staple Crop Processing Zone projects (SCPZ) need to be restructured. 

Agricultural finance and trading are a vital component of the AFEX Nigeria business model. The private sector commodities exchange firm regularly takes part in and runs a series of events to promote dialogue between the government, smallholder farmers, processors, banks and investors around driving finance to the agricultural sector in Nigeria. The Agribusiness and Food Security Summit, and other such dialogue opportunities, are needed to continually put forward the shared value that can be enjoyed by enabling a wide range of collaborative projects that help mitigate risks and drive finance into the agricultural sector, meeting the ambitions of both industry players and national authorities.


Netherlands to partner with Nigeria on oil palm development in three states

The Netherlands on Wednesday said it was concluding plans to further boost its agricultural ties with Nigeria, especially with oil palm development programme in three states.

Edo, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States are part of the programme, which would start in Edo State.

Mrs Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is currently visiting Nigeria from July 9 to July 10 with over 40 Dutch companies.

In a statement emailed to the News Agency of Nigeria, Netherlands noted that she was already Nigeria’s third largest trading partner, mostly in the energy sector but now wanted to make an impact in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

“Now, the country also wants to make an impact in Nigeria’s agriculture sector through private sector development programmes in horticulture.

“The Dutch companies will transfer knowledge and technology to farmers in Nigeria, notably in Kaduna and Kano.

“In the same line, a palm oil development programme will be started in Edo, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and other states in the South.

“Most of the companies and institutions that accompany the minister are active in the agriculture sector.”

NAN reports that the Dutch minister, who gave an address in Abuja on Tuesday on private sector, knowledge institutions and civil society on the Dutch Diamond Approach; will on Wednesday officially open the new Netherlands Consulate-General on Walter Carrington Crescent.

Also, the former embassy office will be upgraded to Consulate-General to reflect the important new relations between the Netherlands and Nigeria.


Agriculture, solution to Nigeria’s economic crisis –Expert

Government at all levels in Nigeria have been urged to invest more in agriculture as it has the potential of boosting the national economy and reducing poverty through job creation.

Making the call in Lagos at a briefing with journalists, real estate expert and Chief Executive Officer of Livelihood Homes Limited, Kelly Nwogu, said that government needed to look beyond oil to grow the economy and drive large scale development in the country.

According to him, with the right kind of investment in agriculture, youths and other categories of Nigerians would be gainfully employed, thereby reducing crime in the society.

He said, “Agriculture has a lot of potential for our country especially in the area of job creation and tackling of poverty.

“It is the way out of our economic crisis and that is why we need to go back to farming and do it the way we used to in the past.

“We must begin to produce more rice, cassava and others in large scale so that we can export to other countries and grow our economy.

“I believe if we embark on massive agricultural development, the issue of poverty, unemployment and crime would be naturally reduced.”

AFAN President Advises Youths To Use ICT To Drive Agriculture

Mr Kabiru Ibrahim, the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has appealed to Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture and use ICT to drive it.

Ibrahim made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that in the past, people used to think agriculture was a dirty job, “it has gone beyond that, there so many new technologies used to make farm work easy’’.

According to him, if youths with the knowledge of ICT will get involved in agriculture then the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow.

“What we have is almost subsistence but if young people will go into it, they do it very well and take it to a new level where it will be purely business.

“There are so many opportunities in agriculture that ICT can use to drive agriculture forward and take us to the next level.”

According to him, some Nigerians youths have taken into agriculture compared to what it used to be but there is still need for more participation.

“My advice to the youths is that they should embrace agriculture. I started agriculture in my 40s and I have no regret whatsoever.

“Am encouraging our youths to get into agriculture, especially today where a lot of them are being deceived into taking arms against the society.’’

Ibrahim said that it was easier to get a job with agriculture than white collar job where there would be crowd wanting to join any organisation such as the CBN, Civil Defense, Immigration.

“After the long process of applying for job that will never be given because there so many people available more than the jobs.

“In some places, over one million people will apply for a position of hundred thousand,” he said.

“Agriculture is the answer and the population of persons in agriculture is more than 50 per cent of the whole population.

“And at the end, this will bring a lot of prosperity far more than just going to work in one office where they get N50, 000 or N60, 000 at the end of the month.

“Where in some places you will only learn to be corrupt because the salary cannot keep you in Abuja for instance, where the accommodation and transformation is high.

“But if you have you own farm, one thing you are guaranteed is availability of food,” he said.



Ecobank Nigeria Enters Strategic Partnership with NIRSAL;Announces N70B Agriculture Financing Scheme

Ecobank Nigeria has entered into a strategic partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) with a N15 billion agricultural investment scheme being the first tranche in agricultural value chain financing. The partnership between both institutions is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s request that banks provide more funding to the agriculture sector. NIRSAL was set up by the Federal Governmental as an innovative mechanism targeted at de-risking lending to the agricultural sector. It is designed to provide the singular transformational and one bullet solution to break the seeming jinx in Nigeria’s agricultural lending and development.

Announcing the partnership in Lagos during a business meeting with the management of NIRSAL, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan also disclosed that Ecobank Nigeria had concluded plans to invest at least N70 billion in agriculture financing within the next three years. He noted that the N15 billion dedicated funding with NIRSAL guarantee is for an initial takeoff tranche and rollovers will be done at the completion of each cycle.

“Agriculture is pivotal to the success and development of any nation’s economy. We are therefore committed to working with NIRSAL to open up the vast opportunities that abound in agriculture. Ecobank has done it in other countries across the continent, so we can do the same in Nigeria. This will give us the opportunity to create employment and enable farmers to finance their children’s education with ease. We prefer people to see us not just as a bank, but as a partner who will help them succeed. We are part of the community and we meet the people at the point of their needs.” he noted.

Further, Mr Akinwuntan noted that with a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa, Ecobank is the only bank that spans 36 African countries yet operates a truly integrated African network.

“Ecobank’s unique and largest pan-African platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent and for the continent, through standardization, fuelling regional integration, trade and investment across borders. Due to our sterling performance, we have been severally recognized; Most recently as ‘Best Retail Bank in Africa 2019’ at African Banker Awards and also as Most Admired Financial Services Brand in Africa 2019 by Brand Africa 100”.

In his remarks, the Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed urged the bank to harness the opportunities available in financing the agricultural sector leveraging on NIRSAL’s template of geo-cooperatives of 250Ha with a ticket size as much as N65 million naira, where all the players in the agricultural value chain are locked-in with an end-to-end approach and near zero cash handling system under a de-risked ecosystem to optimize agricultural value chain financing. He stated that this unique approach to agribusiness creates value for both farmers and financiers.

According to Abdulhameed, “At NIRSAL, we work primarily to create value for both financiers and farmers. It is in view of this that we have created innovative tools, techniques, methodologies and established strategic partnerships like this, to create a symbiotic relationship between all actors along the Agricultural value chain.”

The CBN led by Governor Godwin Emefiele has been at the vanguard of investment in Agricilture as a key contributor to the country’s economy.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently sought the collaboration of Ecobank Group to “institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform this region’s economic fortunes. President Buhari spoke when he had an audience with the ETI board led by the Group Chairman, Emmanuel Ikazoboh.