By Matthew Denis
No fewer than 3,509 farmers in Kwara State will access the N1 billion loan of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ scheme.
This was disclosed by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Bamidele Adegoke in an interview with Pilot Business on Wednesday.
The Commissioner said, “The Kwara State government has accessed the N1bn loan for the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme. As we speak now, we have sent names of the beneficiaries to the Central Bank of Nigeria for biometric clearance and documentation.
“Those farmers have their accounts in Union Bank. In a couple of days they will start accessing the loan. 3,509 farmers have been captured for the loan,” he revealed.
The commissioner added that farm inputs have already been supplied at the Agro Mall while training of beneficiaries will commence on Monday.
Adegoke noted that genuine farmers in the state have applied for it, saying “they are acquainted with procedure to apply for the loan. They have a supervisory panel called PMT with membership drawn from the CBN, state government, Union Bank and the farmers.”
Also speaking, the Special Assistant to the state Governor on Agriculture and Rural Water Support Programme, Hon Anu Ibiwoye, explained that contrary to expectation of farmers, the scheme does not include land clearing.
He said, “What Anchor Borrowers’ scheme takes care of are land preparation, input, planting, weeding, harvesting, packaging and transportation to the market. Therefore, land clearing is not captured in the scheme.”
On disbursement, he explained that farmers would be given input and minimum cash backing for planting, weeding and fertilizer application, to prevent diversion of funds.
On his part, the Bureau Chief of Kwara State Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME), Mr. Segun Soewu said that the state government is being cautious with cash disbursement to farmers because repayment has been posing serious challenge.
He said, “The funds is a bit cumbersome in terms of release by CBN. But as we speak now we have taken consignment of the first batch of input.
“Some farmers had in the past collected money under ‘CAT’ and other programmes and failed to make repayment into government coffers.
” We gave a group about N80 million previously, I’m talking about close to 400 hectares of land and other activities which they carried out last year and all they returned was about N1.2 million only and we are still struggling to get back N78 million.
“So, for them to access the funding, they are expected to provide guarantors such as civil servants. However, they are deliberately procrastinating, so that when the deadline expires they will go about saying government refused to release the money to them. They want to push us to give them the money without the conditions. This is the challenge we have now.
It would be recalled that the CBN in February said in that a total of N 55 billion was disbursed to 250 ,000 farmers under the scheme, in two years.