James Emejo in Abuja
The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Plc has launched the NIRSAL Farmers’ Business School (NFBS) to provide convenient, bespoke training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to Smallholder Farmers (SHFs) who crave improved access to vital information critical to the success of primary production cycles.
The NFBS is a mobile learning platform that is based on Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology operated in partnership with Successory Nigeria Limited, and MTN Nigeria.
Managing Director/Chief Executive, NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, at the launch in Abuja, described the solution as a conduit through which its interactions with farmers and other agricultural value chain stakeholders could be carried on seamlessly and cost-effective and ensure prompt dissemination of vital weather information to farmers in the fields as they become available.
He said the 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.
The MD said the technology will enable NIRSAL to sustainably build the capacity of smallholder farmers on GAP as well as help them to make better decisions in real-time by providing vital information seamlessly.
He said this would further Improve farm yields and lessening the risk of loan defaults – and transition Nigerians farmers from an era of agriculture to the new era of agribusiness.
He however noted that despite the novelty of the platform, it is remarkably easy and affordable to subscribe to and use.
Abdulhameed said,”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 multi-language platform that utilises proprietary audio and IVR technology, meaning that farmers can use it to learn in their own language and at their own pace”
He said the initiative will also be of immense benefits to NIRSAL’s other stakeholders including the federal government, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), bank and other investors in agricultural primary production as the platform will promote the inclusion of farmers in the use of ICT and limit physical classroom engagements in line with the new normal.