Nigeria’s Top 10 CEOs of the year, 2019 – Aliyu Abdul-Hameed
Managing Director/CEO, NIRSAL
Mr. Aliyu Abdul-Hameed, took over the leadership of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) as managing director/CEO at the end of 2015. His mandate is to transform the agriculture sector through de-risking the agricultural value chain. He has blended technical competence with target driven leadership to give the institution a strong foundation to deliver on mandate.
One of two major challenges facing the agricultural sector is inadequate credit support for the business. The other is dependence on crude technology. Abdul-Hameed is making headway in addressing the problems by facilitating the inflow of credit from banks into the agribusiness sector and using innovative approaches to create access to mechanization equipment to farmers.
The increasing credit support from banks is going a long way to support smallholder farmers, boost production and incomes and raise living standards. Up to 693 agricultural projects have sprung up across the nation.
Four years of Abdul-Hameed’s headship of NIRSAL has yielded quite an impressive reading. Hundreds of thousands of farmers have been trained on best agronomic practices and financial education. High quality agricultural inputs have been distributed to more than 500,000 smallholder farmers. About 400,000 jobs have been created in different segments of the agricultural value chain.
Innovative approached have aided the exciting outcomes. NIRSAL has come up with new products and initiatives that are deepening the agricultural business. It initiated a product known as the Secured Agricultural Commodity Route, which is a transportation system designed to facilitate movement of agricultural produce from farms to markets.
It has also come up with an initiative it calls Area Yield Index Insurance Product, which has insured 37,399 farmers against loss of N6.5 billion in revenue. Early this year, NIRSAL unveiled its microfinance bank, which will operate in all the 774 local government areas of the country. Through the bank, it is targeting to reach about 400,000 small and medium enterprises within the first two years of operations.
NIRSAL and the nation are benefitting from Abdul-Hameed’s experience in corporate agribusiness and deep expertise in the field of agricultural finance and risk management. He holds a B.Sc. in agricultural economics and rural sociology from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and a master’s degree in public administration from the Nigerian Defense Academy, specializing in public policy organic link between food security and national security. He also holds an executive master’s certificate in project management from the Project Management College (UK).
Prior to assuming the leadership of NIRSAL, Abdul-Hameed had acquired deep and hands on experience in important sectors and key operations. He was part of the team of pioneer backward integrators in the cotton textile garment value chain in Kewalrams Afcot Group.
The team was instrumental to the creation of Olam – the global commodity trader which links end to end value chains from primary production to industrial users of globally traded agricultural commodities. He was equally exposed to entrepreneurship where he acquired practical experience in the provision of agricultural commodities and related services to a wide variety of clients.
NIRSAL has been signed on as part of a joint mechanization programme for World Bank’s FADAMA III-AF project. The collaboration project is expected to boost access to tractor and land clearing services to smallholder farmers at affordable rates, which is part of the strategy to ensure food security for the country.
Abdul-Hameed expects that the initiative will help conserve foreign exchange as hundreds of abandoned but serviceable tractors in many locations across the country will be refurbished and put to use instead of acquiring new ones. Nigeria spends so much in mechanical equipment purchases, which are not well utilized and maintained.
Providing access to mechanization is a major objective of Abdul-Hameed, which the FADAMA initiative has given a great boost. He is giving agricultural mechanization an expedient pursuit to change drastically the current dependence on 89 percent human labour and 10 per cent animal labour. He believes that changing this narration is the fundamental approach to transforming the agricultural sector.
NIRSAL’s partnership with FADAMA is targeted at achieving continuity of FADAMA III projects and infrastructures in Nigeria as the World Bank project approaches its official closing date of December 2019. The deal has enhanced further the opportunity for NIRSAL to positively impact millions of livelihoods.
Abdul-Hameed said it presents a holistic initiative designed to address the challenges of low agricultural mechanization. It is to him a critical intervention for the achievement of food security, job creation and economic diversification of the country.
Part of his innovations at NIRSAL is separation of ownership of mechanization equipment from users, thereby offering mechanization as a service, which is made available to farmers on ‘pay as you go’ basis. By this move, he has created the opportunity for agricultural equipment manufacturers to step in to further advance the pace of transforming agricultural practices in the country.
Refurbishment of over 55,000 broken down but serviceable tractors across the country has begun and another 130,000 are marked for recycling. Abdul-Hameed’s effort in tackling the two critical problems facing agricultural practice in Nigeria – finance and technology, has enhanced the prospects for agricultural value chain considerably.
Abdul-Hameed is named one of The Top 10 Magazine’s top 10 CEOs of the year, 2019 for his contributions in de-risking the agricultural value chain and empowering smallholder farmers through access to credit and technology.