The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has said the N1bn loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria to farmers in the state will boost agribusiness.
He also said the loan, which is the first phase of the Kwara/CBN 2018 anchor borrowers’ programme would increase food production as well as provide raw materials for industries.
According to him, the programme will reduce Nigeria’s negative balance of payments on food imports.
He spoke along with and his Special Adviser on Agriculture and Rural Water Support Services, Mr Anu Ibiwoye, during the inauguration of the programme in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Ahmed, represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Adegoke Bamidele, said no fewer than 1,250 local farmers in the state had been identified as prospective beneficiaries of the N1bn loan.
He stated that the initiative by the state government to obtain the loan from the CBN through the ABP platform was to further empower local farmers in the production of rice, maize, soya beans and cassava.
According to him, the programme will involve 500 maize farmers, 350 soya beans farmers, 150 rice farmers and 250 cassava farmers.
He stated that the programme was established to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small-holder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
Ahmed said, “The programme thrust of the ABP is the provision of farm inputs and cash (for farm labour) to small-holder farmers to boost production of these commodities, stabilise inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.”
He also said, “Loan granted to farmers must be repaid with the harvested produce that must be mandatorily delivered to the anchor (state government) at designated collection centres in line with the provisions of the agreement that will be signed with you. The produce to be delivered must cover the loan principal and interest.”
Ibiwoye stated that the Project Monitoring Team of the scheme would monitor and ensure that farmers used the inputs and facilities for the farm production.
He added that they would ensure that when the farmers produced, the products would be sold to the off-takers.
According to him, extension agents will monitor the farmers to ensure that they adopt the right practices to achieve expected maximum outputs.
Ibiwoye said, “The initiative is an empowerment that is recoverable. It is not going to be like previous experiences we had. We are going to ensure that the farmers use this for what they are supposed to use it for.”