Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja
The Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending has commenced a scheme that will make it possible to move grains through the railway in an efficient and effective manner to reduce wastage and increase profit margins for farmers.
NIRSAL was set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria to de-risk and increase the flow of private sector finance into the agriculture sector.
The grains by rail initiative, according to a statement by NIRSAL on Sunday, is in line with the focus of the Federal Government to make agriculture a key anchor of economic diversification.
It said the scheme, which is being implemented by NIRSAL in partnership with Connect Rail Services and the Nigeria Railway Corporation, had already seen the movement of 800 tonnes of soya beans from Katsina to Lagos.
The statement quoted the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, to have said the scheme would help to drastically reduce the cost of transportation of grains, enhance the income of smallholder farmers, boost exports and preserve scarce foreign exchange, in line with the agricultural promotion policy of the government.
He said, “It is our hope that this scheme will reduce the cost of transporting grains from the North to the South by over 20 per cent, boost local production, boost exports and help to conserve scarce foreign exchange.
“This will no doubt result in wealth creation for smallholder farmers of those produce, job creation, inclusive economic growth, diversification of national revenue and Gross Domestic Product, among other benefits, in line with the agricultural promotion policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
He stated that NIRSAL’s role in the grains by rail project was to facilitate bank finance for the purchase of necessary equipment through the provision of necessary guarantees, provision of insurance cover for goods being moved, and creation of all relevant linkages.
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