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Farmers protest, seek probe of NIRSAL’s transactions


Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdul Hameed

Hope Concept Cooperative Union (HCCU) has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the activities of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

The farmers’ group in Lagos and Ogun states alleged that NIRSAL had been delaying release of about N298 million loan for them from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since July 19, 2018.

NIRSAL was reportedly hiding under further verification, training and, recently, cost evaluation to deny the concerned farmers their loan.

The group said the off-taker, the Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN), had expressed its desire to pull out of the tripartite contract because NIRSAL claimed that cost of the inputs as expressed in the Economics of Production (EOP) pact the three parties signed was too high.

Contrary to the letters of the pact, NIRSAL is looking for alternative suppliers of inputs, while FMN would remain the off-taker.

This does not go down well with the cooperative, FMN and the CBN who had granted the facility after the pact was signed.

The farmers therefore raised the alarm that the interest was accruing against them, while NIRSAL held on to the funds, fuelling the suspicion that the de-risking agency left the fund in a fixed deposit account.

President of the cooperative, Akin Agboola, said all members had paid the five per cent equity as the agreement stipulated, and that members were becoming impatient because rain-fed agriculture is unpredictable.

With various placards, the farmers called on the EFCC, the government and the CBN to come to their aid by investigating transactions of the NIRSAL.

Some members of the cooperative claimed that no farmer had benefitted in the Anchors Borrowers’ Scheme in the South West this year, adding that it was a calculated attempt to de-market the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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