A coalition of farmers under the auspices of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has urged the Federal Government to investigate the activities of the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
The association, which included Tomatoes Farmers Association, Maize Farmers Association, Farfajiya 1 Rice Farmers Cooperative Association among others made the call at a peaceful march on Wednesday in Abuja.
The associations were holding some placards with various inscriptions such as:
“NIRSAL is a fraud. NIRSAL is killing farmers”, “Anchor borrowers program is a lie’’.
“CBN NIRSAL is diverting farmers’ money’’.
“NIRSAL sits on N200 billion seed funds among others”.
Mr Buhari Kura, member of AFAN, Kano State, who noted that NIRSAL under CBN was saddled with the responsibility of giving loans to farmers to boost their farming activities, however, alleged that the organisation had denied the farmers of loans.
He decried that members of the association that were supposed to be direct beneficiaries of the loans were not given, describing the problem as a big gap in the nation’s bid to achieve food security.
“Our association engaged in dry season farming, wet season farming and all kinds of farming in tomatoes, rice, maize, cucumber among others but to our dismay, the organisation is not doing what is supposed to do.
“NIRSAL is not taking care of the farmers, we that are supposed to be the direct beneficiaries of the organisation service do not even benefit from these loans and this is a serious challenge to our farming activities.
“We are calling on the concerned authorities to please investigate the activities of NIRSAL, and to please come to our aid and rescue our situation because the leadership of the organisation is almost collapsing.
“We want the National Assembly, the Speaker, House Committee on Agriculture, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and security agencies to please investigate the organisation’s activities if possible, the government should change the leadership completely so that we can have what is due to us,” he said.
Mr Shehu Umar, member Tomatoes Farmers Association
frowned at the marginalisation of their members by NIRSAL.
Umar said that none of the association’s members had accessed the loan for the past three years.
He however urged the government to change the organisation’s leadership to actualise the purpose of establishing the organisation, adding that it was set up to meet the demands of active farmers.
Similarly, Abdullahi Ibrahim, Secretary, Small Holders Farmers Association, Kano State, said the essence of the march was to impress on government their demands.
Ibrahim said that some of the members including himself, had applied for the loan through the organisation two to three times but no response.
“We want to improve our agricultural production but with no support. Up till now, no help is given to farmers for over three years. ‘’
Mr Farfajiya Gambo, Farfajiya 1 Rice Farmers Cooperative Association said the peaceful march was for the association to exercise their constitutional rights.
Gambo said that it was to draw attention to the difficulties facing the agricultural sector and as well solicit government intervention.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that all efforts to get reactions of the Managing Director of NIRSAL proved abortive.
However, an official of the organisation in the Media Department, who did not want the name mentioned, told NAN that an official statement would be issued on the matter.
NIRSAL is a 500million dollars Non-Bank Financial Institution wholly-owned by the CBN, was created to redefine, 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 agribusiness finance value chain, fixing agricultural value chains, building long-term capacity and institutionalising incentives for agricultural lending through its five strategic pillars.
The pillars are Risk Sharing, Insurance, Technical Assistance, Incentives, and Rating.