IN order to boost agricultural production, Federal Government has provided N60 billion loan for agro-dealers at 9 per cent interest rate across the country.
FG made the loan available through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Central Bank of Nigeria. The loan was granted under the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending(NIRSAL) initiative.
This was disclosed yesterday in Ibadan by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Ibukun Olusote at a Stakeholders meeting of Southern States on the commencement of the implementation of Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme held at Wallan Hotels, Ibadan.
According to her, the loan will allow small scale input retailers to have access to finance to stock up on seeds and fertilizers all across the country.
The meeting was well-attended by stakeholders in Agriculture industry especially Commissioners for Agriculture in Osun, Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Imo and other states from the North, South and East.
She also noted that President Goodluck Jonathan had given approval of N15 billion to recapitalize the Bank of Agriculture at less than 10 per cent interest rate for farmers.
”As you are all aware indirect targeting of farmers made it easy to divert funds because subsidised seeds, fertilizers and other equipment are diverted to open market and illegally sold at huge profits. As a result, tens of billions of naira were spent every year to reach farmers with agricultural inputs but the level of utilisation of improved seed and fertilizers remained very low”, she said.
”To ensure that only genuine farmers got the subsidised seeds and fertilizers, we put in place the first ever database of farmers in the history of Nigeria. In 2012, we started with the registration of 4.2 million farmers and will increase this year with 5 million farmers” Olusote promised.
The Oyo State Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Peter Odetomi who read welcome address said, “the impact made by the distribution of seeds, fertilisers and other inputs to the small holder farmers in the country via electronic platform and scratch cards, which started in 2012 cannot be over-emphasized.
Rolling out the achievements of Growth Enhancement Support in the state in 2012, he said it was tremendous adding that 76,082 farmers were validated out of 78,000 farmers that registered for the GES scheme.