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Nigeria: NIRSAL Beats COVID-19 Scourge, Facilitates N148 Billion Agribusiness Investment

Despite the COVID-19 scourge that disrupted the global economy last year, Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) says the pandemic is not potent enough to stop its giant strides.

“In the course of the last 13 months, we facilitated the flow of over N30 billion into agricultural value chains from commercial banks and other sources. Even though our operations suffered a stall during the lockdown of 2020, our technological depth gave us a pathway to return to work while remaining safe and socially-distanced.

“It was important to continue, even increase, food and raw materials production as the pandemic bit harder. As enablers of actors in the agricultural value chain, we remained operational for those who were allowed by the Federal Government to move around for the purpose of producing food and rendering essential services in the society.

“By remaining operational, our numbers grew: As at fourth-quarter 2020, we had achieved the following: Facilitated over N148 billion in finance and investments for agriculture and agribusiness.

“We also aggregated over 3,000 agro geo-cooperatives with 500,000 farmers on nearly 800,000 hectares of land; enrolled 1.4 million persons onto innovative insurance products designed by NIRSAL in collaboration with a consortium of agricultural insurance underwriters”, NIRSAL says.

NIRSAL Plc. is however, a $500 million non-bank financial institution wholly-owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It was created to redefine, dimension, measure, re-price and share agribusiness-related credit risks in Nigeria.

It was established in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and Nigerian Bankers’ Committee in 2013.

NIRSAL’s mandate is to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments into the agricultural sector by de-risking the agriculture and agribusiness finance value chain, fixing agricultural value chains, building long-term capacity, and institutionalising incentives for agricultural lending through its five strategic pillars, namely: Risk Sharing, Insurance, Technical Assistance, Incentives and Rating.

NIRSAL’s pioneer Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer is, Aliyu Abdulhameed, a multi-talented agricultural economist with varied experience in institutional development, programme management, process development and improvement.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (with specialisation in Public Policy) from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He also holds an Executive Masters Certificate in Project Management from the Project Management College, United Kingdom.

With a rich blend of formal learning, passion, research and hands-on experience in both the private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy, Abdulhameed has become one of the foremost agribusiness advocates in Nigeria and, indeed, Africa.

His experience cuts across consultancy services, commercial agricultural production, processing, commodity marketing, input management, agricultural extension services, transportation and logistics. This broad exposure in agriculture and agribusiness made him the preferred candidate to lead Nigeria’s most robust and innovative agriculture sector development finance institution.

In NIRSAL, he is said to be building an avant-garde institution leading Nigeria’s flight out of poverty and unemployment through the conceptualisation and deployment of agricultural programmes to engage and enrich millions of smallholder farmers and other actors in the agricultural value chain.

He is being promoted as a relentless campaigner for the use of technology to drive agriculture in Africa.

Abdulhameed’s dexterous leadership has put NIRSAL in the continental spotlight. Many reputable global players in the agriculture sector including the African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) demonstrated their appreciation of NIRSAL’s approach through partnerships and joint events.

Governments across Africa are also understudying and adopting the NIRSAL model to continue the chain of agricultural development across the continent.

Abdulhameed is a Fellow of numerous professional associations including the Microfinance Association of the United Kingdom, the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA) in Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Management of Nigeria (CIPSMN), and a Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management. He is also, a Senior Associate Member of the Risk Managers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN), and an Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

However, according to the de-risking company, the agricultural value chains saw an inflow of over N30 billion from commercial banks and other sources in the last 13 months, an operation it facilitated.

NIRSAL made this known through its CEO, Abdulhameed, during a press briefing in Abuja. He also stated that it enrolled 1.4 million persons into innovative insurance products and aggregated over 3,000 agro geo-cooperatives with 500,000 farmers, all designed by NIRSAL.

This feat, according to Abdulhammed, was not hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.  NIRSAL has also grown its balance sheet to N140 billion, equity by 1,415 percent and total assets by 87 percent through prudent management of its resources, Abdulhammed said.

The NIRSAL boss is assuring that the organisation will continue to work to improve the agricultural value chain.

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