Ecobank Nigeria has entered into a strategic partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) with a N15 billion first tranche in agricultural value chain financing scheme. The partnership is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s request that banks provide more funding to the agriculture sector. NIRSAL was set up by the Federal Governmental as an innovative mechanism targeted at de-risking lending to the agricultural sector. It is designed to provide the singular transformational and one bullet solution to break the seeming jinx in Nigeria’s agricultural lending and development. Announcing the partnership in Lagos during a business meeting with the management of NIRSAL, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria Patrick Akinwuntan also disclosed that the bank had concluded plans to invest at least N70 billion in agriculture financing within the next three years. He noted that the N15 billion dedicated funding with NIRSAL guarantee is for an initial takeoff tranche and that rollovers will be done at the completion of each cycle. “Agriculture is pivotal to the success and development of any nation’s economy. We are therefore committed to working with NIRSAL to open up the vast opportunities that abound in agriculture. Ecobank has done it in other countries across the continent, so we can do the same in Nigeria. This will give us the opportunity to create employment and enable farmers to finance their children’s education with ease. “We prefer people to see us not just as a bank, but as a partner who will help them succeed. We are part of the community and we meet the people at the point of their needs,” he noted. In his remarks, the Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, urged the bank to harness the opportunities available in financing the agricultural sector leveraging on NIRSAL’s template of geo-cooperatives of 250Ha with a ticket size as much as N65 million. He said in the scheme, all the players in the agricultural value chain are locked-in with an end-to-end approach and near zero cash handling system under a de-risked ecosystem to optimize agricultural value chain financing. He stated that this unique approach to agribusiness creates value for both farmers and financiers.