Minister of State for FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has provided about N250 million for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) supported community empowerment agriculture revolving loan for 385 poor communities across the six Area Councils of the FCT.
The Minister of State for FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, disclosed this on Wednesday during an inspection tour of farms in Kuchibuyi and Guita Communities of Bwari Area Council and meeting with farmers in the two communities.
Akinjide reminded that the Community Empowerment Agriculture Initiative is the MDGs Project Support of the FCTA under the Department of Economic Planning, Research and Statistics (EPRS).
She explained that the community empowerment agriculture initiative was aimed at empowering women and youths in 385 poor communities identified by the FCT MDGs Baseline Survey conducted in 2008.
She disclosed that the sum of N60 million was provided in 2010 in the community empowerment agriculture loan scheme, N120 million in 2011 and N60 million in 2012.
She explained that of the N250 million available for farmers, including women and youths, the sum of N120 million has been accessed by the beneficiary communities through four Micro Finance Banks (MFBs), including EWT Microfinance Bank, Fims Microfinance Bank, Hasan Microfinance Bank and Credit Link Microfinance Bank.
She said: “We are supporting the poor and rural communities through capacity building in modern farming techniques and agric-businesses to address the issues of poverty, unemployment and gender equality among the rural populace, thereby improving their income and quality of life.
“This initiative started with 60 communities across the six Area Councils in 2010 and by 2011, the initiative was scaled up to 180 communities with FCT UNDAF II supporting 60 communities".
Presently, the scheme is in 236 communities across the six Area Councils and the remaining communities will be covered before the end of 2013,” said Akinjide.
Earlier, the EPRS Director, Mr. Ari Mohammed, said the scheme was designed to boost agricultural production, create employment and reduce poverty in the FCT.
Mohammed stated that under the scheme, agricultural inputs such as tractors, improved seed, pesticides and fertilisers are provided for the communities for cultivation while extension workers are also deployed to the communities to supervise the various stages of production.”The scheme will help promote value addition technology in agro processing, packaging and quality control and also revitalize the rural economy in these communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, the farmers and communities have urged the FCTA to extend the timeline of the empowerment agricultural scheme to three years from the current one year period.
The Chairman of the MDGs Farmers Cooperatives, Mr. Marks Thomas, who commended the FCTA for the scheme, said that the scheme had increased their income level from between N10,000 and N20,000 to over N100,000.
Thomas noted that the initiative has strengthened farmers in the Area Councils and also encouraged many others to take up agro-business because of improved income level.
He said: “It is a good initiative because the farmers are being empowered and they can now afford to train their children in schools. We are pleading that the scheme should continue and that the timeline for repayment of the facility should be extended".
" There is a computer appreciation programme being organised for the children in the rural communities with aim of keeping them in the area to reduce rural/urban migration,” he stated.
The minister was accompanied on the tour by the Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Hon. Peter Ushafa; Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat in the FCT, Mrs. Olvadi Bema Madayi; Special Assistant to the Minister of State on Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Oyinloye Oyeleke.