The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) says it will soon launch a scheme to move cattle by rail from North to markets in the South.
The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, announced this on Thursday in Abuja at the launch of the NISRAL “Farm to Market’’ scheme.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the scheme is being operated under a partnership with Connect Rail Services, a bulk freight and logistics service provider.
It is also expected to facilitate the transportation of tomatoes, vegetables and other perishable food items by rail within the next few months.
Abdulhameed said that the movement of cattle that would start from Gusau to Lagos was an innovative, business-driven response aimed at making positive impact on the perennial herdsmen-farmers’ crisis.
He also said that it would boost jobs creation and cost of some staple foods across the country.
“The scheme is a tribute to the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari who made agriculture a central component of the Federal Government’s economic response to the steep and long standing fall in the global price of oil.
“NIRSAL’s mandate can best be understood within the context of the policy shift and clear commitment of the Presidency to agriculture.
“Additionally, the far-sighted scheme will also reduce pressure on foreign exchange and the depreciation of the country’s road network due to concentration of haulage activities on the road,’’ Abdulhameed said.
He added that under the scheme, NIRSAL would leverage on bank financing toward the provision of necessary state-of-the-earth equipment, storage and agricultural produce preservation.
The managing director said that such facility would ensure safe efficient movement of agricultural produces from farms in the North to the South.
In his remarks, Mr Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that he was happy with the idea of moving cattle by rail from the North to the South.
Ogbeh, represented by Mr Amin Babandi, a Director in the ministry, said that the scheme would reduce incidences of violent herdsmen and farmers clashes caused by the physical movement of cattle.
The minister said that ranching cattle in defined locations was the best and most sustainable way of resolving the problem.
“This is a pressing national security problem that the President is committed to resolving and business-driven solutions such as this will help greatly.
“To move the cattle or beef products from the ranch to the markets, especially over long distances to the South, we require efficient, low cost and controlled logistics as defined in the Farm to Market’ scheme’’.
The Chief Executive Officer of Connect Rail Services, Mr Edeme Kelikume, said that the scheme was a right step in the right direction to create a Nigeria which the future generations would be proud of.
“We are proud to be partners with NIRSAL on this historic scheme that will take advantage of the low cost rail transport system for moving agric produce.
“As the leading indigenous bulk freight and logistics solutions provider, we will commit our expertise and experience to ensuring that this scheme is a success,” Kelikume said.
The scheme is also projected to reduce the cost of transporting agricultural produce from the north to the south by over 20 per cent.
It will also minimise wastage and spoilage of goods in transit by over 40 per cent in order to preserve value to enable farmers to get good price for their produce at the destination markets.
NIRSAL was launched in 2011 and incorporated in 2013 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a dynamic, holistic 500 million dollar public-private initiative to define, measure, price and share agribusiness related credit risk.