The Director, Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Alhaji Aliyu Hameed has disclosed that N54 billion has been spent to support the agricultural value chain in the past four years.
Speaking at a zonal sensitisation workshop organised in Kaduna for stakeholders in the agricultural sector Hameed said NIRSAL has been able to convince commercial banks to lend the required amount of money with its guarantees to different segment in the agriculture value chain.
”We were able to convince commercial banks to lend that amount of money with our guaranties to different segment in the agriculture value chain being the need organisation established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to help facilitate commercial lending from commercial banks to agricultural producers, agro dealers, processors, whole sellers and all other actors along the agricultural value chain to ensure that if they have projects or concepts that are commercially viable, finance and capital will not be an issue for them”, he said.
He added that “if farmers are able to bring together a project in agricultural value chain that makes commercial sense and the bank can finance it, the role of NIRSAL is to ensure that we provide credit risk guarantee to the commercial banks so that they can lend comfortably and securely to that project in the agricultural value chain.”
He explained that “NIRSAL certificate of guarantee is as good as issuing a CBN certificate guarantee, so the banks feel very comfortable to hold our certificate of guarantee and then give that loan, but the guarantee levels vary from 75, 50 and 30 per cent guarantee”.
He noted that commercial banks are risk averse when it comes to lending money for agriculture purpose, adding that by virtue of the CBN supporting such financing through NIRSAL, the banks feel very comfortable to lend to all actors in the agricultural value chain.
He said NIRSAL has an incentive for borrowers who do not default in payment called interest rate, saying, NIRSAL gives such borrowers up to 40 per cent interest support, adding that the whole purpose is to encourage farmers to borrow and pay back their loans.
“In the course of achieving food security, you also achieve a lot of other security benefits, so by getting people involved, getting people financed in agriculture, in agro dealership, in production, in processing and in marketing, you will see that a lot of unemployed youths that we have will have a segment in which he or she can play.
According to him, the key thing to understand is that agriculture production and value chain, there are factors that are required including land resource, human resource and capital.
Also speaking at the occasion, the representative of the CBN and Kaduna Branch Controller, Alhaji Suleiman Abdulsalam noted that NIRSAL was established by the CBN to enable farmers access all the facilities the bank has on ground.
“We have been so oil dependent, so we are moving away from oil to agriculture that has been our traditional source of power, so the tendencies for us to develop is there,” he said.
He disclosed that the CBN was measuring down some of the conditionalities that guide access to loans, adding that such conditions were being reviewed from time to time to enable farmers access such loans, since the CBN does not give money to individuals.