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Can CBN’s NIRSAL deliver ‘grains by rail initiative’ as cattle rail movement hangs?

Considering the observed failure of the first programme by the Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) for cattle dealers to move products on rail from North to South, there are fears that another plan the same body to move grains through the railway may not be different.

Just as was assured before the collapse of the cattle deal, NIRSAL said the target of the ‘grain by rail’ is to establish 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.

A statement by NIRSAL said noted that the new plan was in line with the focus of the Federal Government to make agriculture a key anchor of economic diversification.

The statement also the scheme is coming 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.

It would be recalled that before the suspension of the cattle movement from Zamfara to Lagos, over 10,000 had been moved with ease and it was well appreciated by the farmers.

According to the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, 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.

“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.”

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