By Ginika Okoye
Abuja, – Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RIELA, German agricultural technology company, to tackle estimated N2.7 trillion annual post-harvest losses in the country.
Signing the agreement in Abuja on Sunday, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, said the move was in line with the organisation’s mandate to ensure sustainable value chain-driven solution in agriculture.
Abdulhameed said the partnership would provide increased access to harvest and post-harvest technology equipment, to help farmers at the production level with technology, training, machinery and technical assistance.
According to him, we believe that this multi-level support will improve farmers’ productivity and increase their income in grains, fruits and vegetables.
The managing director quoted the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as saying that the country losses over 51.3 million tonnes of food annually to post-harvest losses across agricultural products, describing the development as unacceptable.
He said the partnership was a business-driven service provision and support framework that would provide farmers at the primary level of production, cost effective access to modern farming technologies and machinery.
The managing director listed some agricultural equipment that would be available through the partnership to include threshers, aspirators, stationery and mobile dryers, steel silos.
Others are storage equipment, cooling devices, milling and mixing plants for feed production as well as packaging solutions, adding that all the equipment would be designed for the Nigerian environment.
‘‘As a country, we are blessed with the production of various agricultural commodities, but the post-harvest loss rate is quite alarming.
‘‘The majority of our farm produce is lost to pest and deterioration. This is fundamentally caused by poor post-harvest processing and storage practices.
‘‘These losses are much higher in the rural communities where most of our primary production activities take place.
‘‘Our approach in NIRSAL is to look at the agricultural value chain from inputs, mechanisation, primary production, harvest, post-harvest processing and storage all the way to market.
‘‘RIELA will also provide the equipment and a 12 hour back-to-work repair system and after-sales service networks in proximity to customers.
‘‘NIRSAL, on its part, will facilitate necessary financing required for the partnership from our local financial institutions,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Bernhard Schlagheck, said the German Government was supporting the partnership between NIRSAL and RIELA.
He said the support was in line with Germany’s confidence in the direction of the Federal Government’s agricultural diversification policies.
Schlagheck described the prospects of the Nigerian agriculture sector as very promising given the innovations of NIRSAL.
The Managing Director of REILA, Prof. Karl-Heinz Knoop, said the company was in Nigeria to make agribusiness viable to ensure that harvested agriculture produce were properly packaged and stored.
‘‘I can imagine the pains of farmers in Nigeria and this is the reason why we want to help; we want to address this agricultural problem with Nigerian solution.
‘‘The partnership is not to sell machines and disappear; there will be services and guarantee on what is sold.
‘‘We will train farmers on how to handle these machines,’’ he explained.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that NIRSAL was incorporated in 2013 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to improve lending to agriculture by addressing the underlying reasons why banks do not lend to the sector.
NIRSAL has also, in the past three years, facilitated nearly N63 billion in commercial bank lendings to agriculture.