The Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture, NIRSAL, and Microsoft have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, over deployment of Azure FarmBeats to boost farmers’ productivity and minimize risks.
This was made known by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed, at a media interaction with journalists, while speaking on the impact made by the organization in derisking the agricultural sector.
According to Abdulhameed NIRSAL’s MoU signing with Microsoft will bring about help to farmer in cost reduction, productivity, sustainable agricultural practice and better outcomes.
He also pointed out that despite the strategic role played by agriculture in the development and growth of African economies, contributing to employment and food security and accounting for an average of 24 per cent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, there remains a lot of untapped agricultural potential that can be leveraged by increasing farming productivity.
Adding that with the partnership NIRSAL will help farmers analyse weather conditions, temperature, water conditions and to make better decisions to optimize agricultural output and lessen risks to investors and attract more funding in the sector.
It has been an age-long practice in Nigeria as farmers use their instincts and experience to know when to plant crops, how much and where, but external and uncontrollable factors can impact the productivity and profitability of farms. This in turn, can affect a farm’s viability and accessibility to funding and investment.
Microsoft’s Azure FarmBeats is a purpose-built, agricultural cloud platform that enables the aggregation of agricultural data and generation of actionable insights into farm and conditions, soil moisture, crop layout and farm population by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, the internet of things and cloud technology.
He said: “Agriculture remains the foundation of Nigeria’s economy and is the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians. Therefore, the sustainability and growth of the agricultural sector is crucial for the development of the country and its people.
“We are certain that Azure FarmBeats will be the tool that will help us to analyse the data being produced from these farms and all the possible ways we can use it to stabilize the agricultural value chain and boost the confidence of investors to eliminate barriers to the free flow of finance and investment to agribusiness in Nigeria.”
The NIRSAL boss also disclosed that NIRSAL being a US$500 million non-bank financial institution, wholly owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, established in 2013 to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments into the country’s agricultural sector is organizing 4 million hectares (owned by 8 million farmers) into 16, 000 NIRSAL AgroGeoCoops of 250 hectares each, NIRSAL aims to remove barriers to better financing for farmers.
“The US$500 million non-bank financial institution, wholly owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, was established in 2013 to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments into the country’s agricultural sector by de-risking the agribusiness finance value chain, fixing agricultural value chains, building long-term capacity, and institutionalizing incentives for agricultural lending through its five strategic pillars, namely risk sharing, insurance, technical assistance, incentives, and rating.
“By organizing 4 million hectares (owned by 8 million farmers) into 16, 000 NIRSAL AgroGeoCoops of 250 hectares each, NIRSAL aims to remove barriers to better financing for farmers. This will also allow for easier and more affordable deployment of modern technology for AgroGeoCoops”, he said.
Also speaking at the signing ceremony was Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria Limited, Akin Banuso, commended effort of NIRSAL for transforming the agricultural sector with initiatives that are producing results.
“Microsoft is excited to be working with NIRSAL to promote precision agriculture in Nigeria by leveraging both the experience and field structure established by NIRSAL to transform the agricultural space in the country and empower those who work within it by using Microsoft’s purpose-built, industry-specific cloud platform FarmBeats to drive innovation in the industry”, Banuso said.