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NIRSAL secures N3.5bn loan for 3,750 farmers to boost maize, soybean production

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The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has secured a N3.5 billion loan commitment to boost maize and soybean production in the 2019 wet season.

The Managing Director, NIRSAL, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, disclosed this at the end of a two-day Preliminary Technical Session Roundtable Engagement with stakeholders for the Mapping for Markets (M2M) project in Abuja on Tuesday.

Abdulhameed stated that the loan would be disbursed to 3,750 farmers in three pilot states under the M2M project.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the M2M project is an initiative of NIRSAL to support maize and soybean farmers with fertilisers and seeds in Benue, Niger and Ekiti states.

According to Abulhameed, NIRSAL will be using these three states as its pilot scheme by providing the necessary support to smallholders maize and soybean farmers with quality inputs to increase their yields.

“It is interesting to note that under this single pilot project and as a result of our deliberations and interactions, we have been able to extract significant commitments to be executed in this 2019 wet season.

“Benue, Niger and Ekiti states have pledged about 3,750 hectares of brown-field farmland for this project.

“We were able to secured a loan commitment of N3.5 billion for smallholder farmers by Stanbic, Union Bank and Sterling Bank under the M2M initiative.

“The farmers will be supported across these three states and 107.5 metric tonnes of seeds worth approximately N65.5 million will be supplied by seed companies.

“Also, 2,062 metric tonnes of fertilisers worth about N290 million will be made available by the fertiliser companies,” he said.

The NIRSAL boss added that 33,250 litres of “crop protection products” worth N54.6 million had be committed to the project.

He said 8,750 metric tonnes of maize worth N744 million and 2,000 metric tonnes of soybean worth N208 million are expected to be produced and off taken under the pilot phase.

Abdulhameed said that the downstream actors present had committed to off-take the maize and soybean to be produced.

This, he explained, would generate an estimated revenue of N425,000 and N2260,000 for maize and soybean respectively.

He added that the M2M project would save the country about N1 billion via import substitution, adding that it would also create jobs and income opportunities to players along the two value chains.

Abdulhameed said that NIRSAL would not relent in its effort to ensure that standard fertilisers and improved seeds were supplied to farmers under this project to boost productivity.

He expressed hope that the M2M strategy would unlock the “immense potential across all agriculture value chains, the agriculture finance value chain and other agribusiness support sectors in Nigeria”.

Mr Tunde Faturoti, Managing Director, Agriseed Co Nigeria Limited, assured Nigerians that the seeds to be supplied under the M2M project were not Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) but hybrid.

“The seed we are promoting is not GMO, it’s hybrid and what hybrid does is that you have a predetermine period that will give you what you want like disease resistance.

“The seed we are promoting is a three way crop whereby you have a minimal of three parents. The first point is to get an hybrid, then we get the one for disease resistance.

“It has been adapted to our environment. It is adapted to all the stresses that we have around in the southern and Guinea Savannah were this can actually grow.

“This same varieties give two tonnes in Zimbabwe. But there, everybody look at the soil then fertiliser is used according to soil testing. We are not just providing seed but we will back it up with training, ” he said.

Mrs Tope Samuel-Odu, Regional Agribusiness Manager, Union Bank, quoted the NIRSAL MD as saying that, all structure would put put in place to ensure a win win situation at the end of the day.

‘If such is the case, then you don’t have to push financial institutions to lend. Financial institutions are there to lend.

“The money is there to give out but they are looking for bankable products, bankable projects that they can put their money towards. The transaction is right when we are making profit, ” she said.

On his part, Mr Richard Olafare, the President, Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) said that N65 million worth of seed to be committed to this project was a good one.

Olafare was represented by Prof. Johnson Onyibe, an Adviser to Seed Industry, thanked NIRSAL for this laudable project and called for it sustainability.

Edited by Felix Ajide

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