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NIRSAL grows seed fund to N900 billion

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•Guarantees N102billion loans to farms
Nigerian Incentive based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), has grown its seed fund to nearly N900billion from N720billion at inception in 2013, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Aliyu Adulhameed has said.

NIRSAL was established to de-risk lending to the Agriculture sector in Nigeria.

Also, Adulhameed said the agency has attracted a whooping sum of N102billion from banks as loans to farmers, through its guarantor’s mandate.

He disclosed this, last week, in Abuja, at a press briefing on the six-year old agency, which is today a $500million Non-Bank Financial Institution wholly-owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), 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.

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NIRSAL’s mandate is to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments into the agricultural sector by de-risking the agribusiness finance value chain, fixing agricultural value chains, building long-term capacity, and institutionalising incentives for agricultural lending through its five strategic pillars. These are risk sharing, insurance, technical assistance, incentives and rating.

Abdulhameed said the growth of the seed fund, which was a debenture loan from the CBN, has grown by 20 per cent through investment of the seed capital in Government treasury instruments over the years.

He said this is despite the deployment in personnel emolument, training and other activities of the agency, and the funds is held in an escrow account at the CBN.

Meanwhile, he said to ensure value for money for every investment in the farmers to guarantee that the credit performs, NIRSAL engaged the Microsoft Azure Farmbeat methodology in the monitoring of farms to boost productivity and minimise risks.

The Microsoft’s Azure FarmBeats is a purpose-built, agricultural cloud platform that enables the aggregation of agricultural data and generation of actionable insights into farm health and conditions, soil moisture, crop layout and farm population by harnessing the power of Artifcial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Cloud technology.

Speaking on the collaboration, Abdulhameed said: “Agriculture remains the foundation of Nigeria’s economy and is the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians.

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“Therefore, the sustainability and growth of the agricultural sector is crucial for the development of the country and its people. We are certain that Azure FarmBeats will be the tool that will help us to analyse the data being produced from these farms and all the possible ways we can use it to stabilise the agricultural value chain. It will also boost the confidence of investors to eliminate barriers to the free flow of finance and investment agribusiness in Nigeria.”

Also speaking was the Country, Microsoft Nigeria Limited, Akin Banuso, said: “Microsoft is excited to be working with NIRSAL to promote precision agriculture in Nigeria by leveraging both the experience and field structure established by NIRSAL to transform the agricultural space in the country. It will also empower those who work within it by using Microsoft’s purpose-built, industry-specific cloud platform FarmBeats to drive innovation in the industry.”

With this partnership, NIRSAL is now able to help farmers analyse weather conditions, temperature, water conditions and so much more in real-time to inform better decision-making to optimise agricultural output and therefore lessen the risks to investors and attract more funding in Nigeria.

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