AS part of efforts targeted at boosting agricultural production, the sum of N1 billion has been approved by the Oyo State government for the state Agricultural Credit Corporation to give out to farmers across the state in form of loan.
The single digit interest loan facility would ensure more access at reasonable interest rates for farmers to expand their business and attract potential investors into the farming value chain.
Speaking during a press briefing at the Ministry of Information and Civic Orientation Film Theatre in Ibadan, recently, Executive Chairman, Oyo State Agricultural Credit Corporation, Alhaji Taofeek Akeugbagold, said that the present administration is committed to reforming the farming sector with notable programmes like the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAfER), among others.
He said this will ensure food security and cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
He said the loan facility will focus on the smallyholder farmers, who bear the burden of feeding the teeming population.
“His Excellency, the Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, has graciously approved the release of N1 billion under the Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER) Programme which is to be disbursed to the farmers in all the 33 Local Government Areas of the state so as to improve food security in the state,” he said.
“The farmers account for about 90 percent of the farmers population and this is responsible for about 95 percent of the aggregate food and fibre production in the state. They are mostly residents of the state’s rural areas who are poorly served by basic public amenities.”
Akeugbagold said to access the loan, which will be disbursed and recouped by microfinance banks across the seven geopolitical zones in the state, each benefitting farmer must bring a guarantor, who is a civil servant on Grade Level 7 and above.
He noted that the scheme would bring more stability to develop the agricultural sector and provide an enabling environment for the development of Oyo State farms and agricultural business.
Akeugbagold said the loan will be disbursed to farmers who are duly registered with the state Ministry of Agriculture.
In his remarks, the General Manager, Agric Credit Corporation, Mr. Emmanuel Ogundiran, explained that: “The state government has recapitalised the corporation, we have received some funds and one of the mandates of the corporation is financing the agric value chain completely.
“The modality in giving out the loan is going to be exactly as enshrined in loan conditions of the corporation. We have set rules for giving out loans and for this programme, we are making use of microfinance banks which are governed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulations and also regulated by the bank and financial institutions.”
He added: “The corporation is funded by a system of revolving accounts which were built up over the years. Moreover, considering the realities of the present time accentuated by the removal of fuel subsidy, which has severally impoverished the peasantry, the loan support programme could not have come at a better time.
“For ease of administration, The corporation has divided the entire state into seven zones and intends to commence a sensitisation campaign in all the aforementioned zones very soon. The procedure for disbursement shall be unveiled at the subsequent town-hall meetings with the farmers which will take place across the seven zones in the state.”
On whether individuals farmers, who are not registered members of associations, could apply for the loan, the general manager answered in the affirmative, stating that “In fact, we do not intend to give loan to the association. We are giving individual farmers”.