By Mike Adeyemi
In a bid to boosts agri-business and food production, the Kwara state government has incorporated about 2,500 farmers into the Anchor Borrower’s Scheme of the Federal Government.
Recalled that the state government had flagged off the scheme in August to empower farmers through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) N1 billion loans aimed at encouraging people and expanding agricultural activities in the country.
The Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Bamidele Adegoke made the disclosure during an interview with Pilot Business recently.
He said “Kwara being an Agrarian state key into the scheme after the State House of Assembly has given a go ahead for the government to acquire the loan.
“If states want to have food security then they have to key into commercialisation. Kwara farmers often time do not have access to funds and on this the state government has no option than to embrace the scheme to assist them.
“Each state was asked to submit proposal on where they have a comparative advantage. What we did in Kwara is that, farmers that have not defaulted were captured and targeted.
“As at today, N1 billion had been expended on the programme which over 2,500 farmers in the state have benefited. The fund was domiciled with the Union Bank and disbursed through various micro finance banks to allow for easy accessibility by the farmers.
The Commissioner further explained that all farmers in Kwara State have benefited in the first phase of the scheme and have collected their inputs and money.
According to him the scheme is not a grant but a loan with 9 per cent interest rate.
He said “When we took off with the programme in Kwara, I stood in for the executive Governor of the state at the unveiling of the scheme and we specifically told farmers on the penalty for defaulters and a riot act was spelt out to them.
“Unfortunately, 10 farmers were nabbed for selling the inputs given to them. They were caught and their inputs were revoked”.
Adegoke stressed that it is not a fund they can toy with therefore, farmers that are caught will be prosecuted as all papers and documentations they signed spelt out penalties for sharp practices.
The Commissioner however assured that there will be bountiful food supply in the state this year owing to the giant stride taken in the Agricultural sector by the government.
“One way we chose to get maximum result is through Project Management Team (PMT), through which we tour all the 16 local government areas to inspect their farms and how they have plough back the loans.”