The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lendin, NIRSAL Plc has reiterated its position not to be pressured into releasing the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN-backed farmers’ funds to unqualified, dishonest middlemen.
NIRSAL, in a statement signed by Anne Ihugba, Head, Corporate Communications, noted that a vicious and well-funded campaign of disinformation and blackmail against the organization by some persons and groups who claim to be stakeholders or participants in various agricultural projects.
According to NIRSAL’s statement, ‘In an effort to invest their bogus claims with invented credibility, these elements have been making the rounds of media houses with false claims that NIRSAL, itself a CBN-owned entity, is holding up funds released by the CBN under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).’
The statement reads further, ‘Some of them have even gone as far as organizing anti-NIRSAL protests and press conferences citing documents that were still undergoing processing and funds yet to be released by the CBN. Others have also been busy whipping up sentiments against NIRSAL amongst farmers, who they claim to represent.
“Our investigations reveal that among these elements are so-called “leaders” of farmers’ groups who did not meet the relevant criteria for participation in the ABP through the NIRSAL PFI window, by filing up registers of “cooperatives” they formed with fake names and unidentifiable persons. In this category also, are so-called “farmers” who do not have farmlands.
“It is interesting to note that the farmers who failed credit checks are the ones being used to mount these negative campaigns and protests. It is this latter category of “farmers” that are conniving with these so-called “aggregators” to confuse genuine farmers on the procedures and processes of accessing the CBN ABP facility.
“We also have information that some “aggregators” have fraudulently collected monies from farmers promising to deliver loan facilities through the CBN ABP and other NIRSAL funding windows.”
Stating that the objective of the campaign which is being waged on several media platforms is clear: to intimidate the corporation into releasing funds to unqualified and unverified entities under the NIRSAL window of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the organization made it clear that it will certainly not happen because NIRSAL takes its mandate from Central Bank of Nigeria too seriously to fall for these underhand and unethical tactics.
“As an agricultural finance risk management institution, NIRSAL has no intention of compromising its internal processes or the ABP guidelines by falling for these shenanigans.
“NIRSAL has a mandate from the Central Bank of Nigeria to deploy its risk management mechanisms, its nationwide footprint, its partnership with Channel Partner Banks and its technical capacities to directly empower farmers by de-risking agriculture and facilitating agribusiness, with the ultimate objective of boosting agricultural productivity and food security in the country.
“In pursuit of this objective, NIRSAL has disbursed and continues to disburse ABP funds to tens of thousands of genuine and verified farmers across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT under the ABP. To make it easier for legitimate farmers to access approved funds, NIRSAL will continue to make direct disbursement to qualified farmers accounts, who have fulfilled all necessary conditions precedent to such support.
“The notion that NIRSAL, under undue pressure, will release monies meant for innocent smallholder farmers – most of whom are of low-income status in rural areas- to conscienceless middlemen, blackmailers and propagandists is antithetical to everything NIRSAL stands for and synonymous with CORRUPTION.
“We are by this notice alerting genuine farmers and farmer associations not to allow these dishonest elements who have become ubiquitous, to continue their nefarious activities to deprive you or your associations of legitimate credit support from the CBN and Federal Government under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
“We are also alerting the media and public to the existence of these nefarious persons and groups through this disclaimer and urge anyone who is in doubt to reach NIRSAL through the contact information below for information or clarification.”
The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) was launched in 2011 and incorporated in 2013 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a dynamic, holistic USD500 Million public-private initiative to define, measure, price and share agribusiness related credit risk.
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