Smallholder Farmers To Pay N100/Week As NIRSAL Launches Business School

The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending has launched a mobile learning platform that is based on Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology for Nigerian farmers.

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The initiative was introduced in partnership with Successory Nigeria Limited, MTN Nigeria and FBIS Technologies, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Nigeria said in a statement on Thursday.

The platform, dubbed the NIRSAL Farmers’ Business School (NFBS) , would provide convenient, bespoke training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to Nigeria’s Smallholder Farmers.

Rural farmers in the country are faced with the challenge of limited or no access to crucial information on best practice, finance availability, and growth management.

According to NIRSAL, under its Technical Assistance pillar, it is mandated to provide support mechanisms that would bridge information gaps.

Aliyu Abdulhameed, Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL Plc said the business school ” will address the lack of access to information which is critical to the success of production cycles, particularly in the face of changing weather and climatic conditions.

“These changes presuppose that the guidance of diverse professionals like meteorologists, agronomists, soil scientists, market researchers, and so on must be funnelled into primary production activities to help farmers achieve the best possible outcomes.”

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Abdulhameed said that the concerns that the platform may be sophisticated and expensive for some rural farmers was considered during the pre-design research and situational analyses.

He explained, “First and foremost, we have a platform that does not require smartphones or internet connectivity to function. It is accessible offline and on-the-go.

“Secondly, it is a multilanguage platform that utilizes proprietary audio and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, meaning that farmers can use it to learn in their own language and at their own pace.

“Thirdly, it will cost N100 only per week for a subscriber to access the courses and assessments due them, N50 only for additional information like market opportunities and weather forecasts, and N20 only to receive step-by-step guidance on performing specific farm activities like pest control and fertilizer application.”

The Acting Director of Corporate Communications of the CBN, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, believes the initiative would promote the inclusion of farmers in the use of ICT and limit physical classroom engagements in line with the Covid-19 induced new normal.

Adekunle Adebiyi, Chief Sales Distribution Officer of MTN Nigeria, said the collaboration would meaningfully connect, inform and educate Nigerian farmers.

He said that MTN would further support the initiative with free SIM cards for farmers, a measns to accelerate the take-off of the platform.

NIRSAL also revealed that the lead developer of the product, Successory, would oversee the onboarding process of subscribers as well as address farmers’ challenges.

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