Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Farmers in Edo State have become beneficiaries of N2billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), guaranteed by the state government.
The loan is in consonant with one the apex bank’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme aimed at jobs creation, reduction in food imports and diversification of Nigeria’s economy.
The state farmers who also got a N1billion grant in 2011 from the state government to buy farm implements and grow their farms, endorsed Godwin Obaseki as the successor of the state governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Speaking during the flag-off of the programme in Benin City, on Wednesday, Oshiomhole said the private sector’s involvement was needed to create employment and wealth for people especially those in the rural areas.
He said no matter how hard any governor will try, it alone cannot be able to create all the jobs that are need in the state and in Nigeria.
“The primary purpose of government is not the recruitment of civil servants. Indeed, the civil service which is manned by civil servants is there in order to work and create the environment to support the citizens to do their own businesses and run their lives. The most attractive and perhaps the only job in town is working for the government. That has to change, and to change it, we must revisit the economy and put our people back to work, rebuild the rural economy and transfer prosperity to our farmers. That is the way to go, and that is what this project is about”, he declared
According to the governor, “The challenge of fighting rural poverty goes beyond just building those roads. Those roads are a means to an end; they are not an end in themselves. That end is, having opened up various communities, how do we take advantage of the rural infrastructure to empower modern farmers, big and small, using modern methods to produce and have guaranteed buyers of the produce?
“So, the promise of this project which the Central Bank is going to provide the funding, guaranteed by Edo State Government with the aid of the Bank of Industry and one other commercial bank is to go back to the basics, have the benefit of a modern approach to farming in a way that will give you greater yields and a ready buyer of that yield who takes the product to process so that we don’t export the way we did it before without adding value. That way, prosperity will return to the rural community. I need you to take this exercise very seriously. We are in trouble if many of our people are idle.”
He added: “We want Edo rice to return to Government House. So, this whole approach is to recognise that we cannot continue to depend on consuming India rice and India bread. We also realise that many of you have business initiative but you don’t have the money to start small scale farms because you are not going to buy cutlasses and hoes anymore; you need small implements and that requires strong capital, and that is where the bank comes in to provide that loan, that facility that you will get, go back to your various places and start doing something.
But I need you to know that each and every one of you who is serious, with the funding from the bank and the assistance provided by the people who have the skill to guide you through with modern implements and linking you with the nearest large scale farmers, things will change and they will change on a sustained basis, and wealth will return to rural communities and then Nigeria will be safe.”
Oshiomhole explained that this is not a project for next year, adding that he wants to distribute those cheques before the end of his tenure.
Chairman of the Association, Chief Emmanuel Odigie, commended Oshiomhole for the support to farmers in the state. He said “today’s ceremony is a very epochal and undeniable proof that your government has given enough recognition to farmers in Edo State with a view to making the diversification of our economy a reality.
“Permit me on behalf of AFAN to appreciate you and your government for the support given to AFAN since you came on board. I want to re-echo here the one billion naira you gave to farmers in this state in the year 2011. Also, I will not forget to appreciate you for the current two billion naira Anchors Borrowers loan you also gave us now.”
He added: “Although we are non-partisan, but we cannot thank you enough for the massive development in Edo State, particularly in education, health, road construction, erosion control and rehabilitation.
“To this end, AFAN promise to support you in all ramifications to vote massively for our choice candidate Mr. Godwin Obaseki come 28th September 2016 to guarantee the sustainable development of Edo State. We hereby officially endorse our choice candidate, Obaseki.”
The APC governorship candidate, Obaseki promised to support farmers when he emerges Governor of the state.
He said: “I will make sure that everybody under this Anchor Borrowers scheme, I will make sure you get your Certificate of Occupancy for your land free of charge because, with that Certificate of Occupancy, you now have an access. We will also make sure that in every local government, we sit down with the various local governments and the various communities to help you acquire hectares of land that are together rather than putting your farm here in this community, then somebody is going ten kilometres to put another farm.
For you to clear your own, and for the other person to clear his own, he will rent a tractor one day and it will take two days for the tractor to go to another farm.
“So, what we will do is to acquire a contiguous piece of land in every local government. There are many other things that we can now do as a government to support you so that the cost of production, the cost of cultivating our land goes down so that you can make a profit.”
He concluded: “So, in a nutshell, this Anchors Borrowers Programme will ignite the agriculture revolution in this country because it is based on the practical topic of demand and supply. That is where we hope and pray that the bulk of the jobs we require and which we are going to create in Edo State will come from.