The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, on Thursday unveiled its Farmers’ Business School, NFBS, for Smallholder Farmers, SHFs, to grow their farming business.
NIRSAL unveiled the maiden farmers business school in collaboration with its partners, Successory Nigeria Limited, and MTN Nigeria.
The NIRSAL business school is a mobile learning platform that is based on Interactive Voice Response, IVR, technology.
NBFS would provide convenient, bespoke training on Good Agricultural Practices, GAP, to SHFs who crave improved access to vital information which is critical to the success of primary production cycles.
Speaking during interactions at the unveiling of the NFBS, Aliyu Abdulhameed, Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL Plc, allayed concerns that the platform might be too sophisticated and expensive for some rural farmers to use.
He explained that pre-design research and situational analyses took such concerns into account, hence, the product is a multi-language, offline on-the-go platform that can be accessed via any mobile phone – smart or not.
In terms of cost, he said that at N100 per week, a subscriber could access all the courses and assessments due to them, and at their own pace.
Mr Abdulhameed explained that a N50 fee would apply for access to additional market opportunities, weather forecasts/updates, and special deals, while with N20 only, subscribers could procure step-by-step guidance on specific farm activities such as pest control and fertilizer application.
Mr Abdulhameed emphasised the importance of the platform to NIRSAL Plc, its owners the CBN, the Federal Government, Banks, and other investors in agricultural primary production.
The NIRSAL boss said the platform would promote the inclusion of farmers in the use of ICT and limit physical classroom engagements in line with the new normal.
He said that the platform also holds great value for NIRSAL’s officials in the field who have been wading through towns, villages and bushes to perform their training and capacity building assignments.
” We urge all farmers in Nigeria, and indeed all agriculture stakeholders, to embrace new technologies and grow their farming business,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Adekunle Adebiyi, Chief Sales Distribution Officer of MTN Nigeria, said that MTN is a natural collaborator in initiatives that meaningfully connect, inform and educate Nigerians.
He said that MTN’s peerless network connectivity in Nigeria would serve as the conduit for a seamless, continuous, and cost-effective interaction between NIRSAL Plc and farmers, which would lead to improved productivity and earnings across board.
Mr Adebiyi said that MTN’s resolution to further support the initiative with free SIM cards for farmers is a way of accelerating the take-off of the platform and the onboarding of millions of farmers.
Also, Osita Nwanisobi, Acting Director of Corporate Communications of the CBN, applauded NIRSAL Plc and its partners for the initiative and urged the media to drive its uptake nationally for the good of all.
A brief demonstration of the platform revealed its paced, multi-language interactivity, as well as ease of navigation.
The demo was conducted by Isaiah Bendi, Managing Director/CEO of FBIS Technologies, who expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in a project with potentials for massive national impact.