Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
No fewer than 17,000 farmers have benefited from the loan scheme of the Osun Quick Impact Intervention Programme (QUIIP) as part of the comprehensive programme of the Rauf Aregbesola administration to boost agriculture.
A set of 77 farmers’ cooperative groups benefited under the QUIIP I while another set of 419 farmers’ cooperative groups benefited from both QUIIP II programmes. Some of the cooperative groups have as much as over 200 farmers as members.
While the sum of N164, 882. 920 million was disbursed to farmers under QUIIP I programme, N686, 786, 612 million was distributed under the QUIIP II, coming to a total of N851, 669, 532 million.
A statement by the Bureau of Communication and Strategy signed by its Director, SemiuOkanlawon, quoted the Coordinator of QUIIP, Mr. Dele Ogundipeto have given the breakdown on Tuesday when farmers under the QUIIP programme gathered at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park Osogbo to express appreciation to the government for its massive support for food production and general agric business in the state.
This was just as other heads of agencies told the huge gathering the extensive support programme of the Aregbesola administration since inception.
The Osun State Agricultural Development Corporation (OSSADEC) gave out N250million loan to farmers in 2010 and N500million in 2012.
Also, as part of the massive provision of infrastructure to aid farming, the Rural Accessibility Mobility Programme (RAMP), constructed for the state 662km rural roads for easy access to farm settlements.
In addition, out of 300km World Bank-assisted programmes, 225km roads had been completed through N12bn World Bank assisted loan where Osun paid a counterpart fund of N2bn.
The breakdown was made by the Project Manager of the RAMP, Lere Oriolowo.
However, Aregbesola called on all farmers who had benefitted from the agriculture loans to repay the initial capital so that the money could circulate among other farmers in the state.
The governor expressed concern that only a paltry sum of N364, 693. 21 had been repaid out of N1. 421bn government lent the farmers.
On micro-credit scheme, the governor stated that the government also made soft loan available for the development of small and medium scale businesses in the state.
He said that the loan was targeted at micro-enterprises such as traders, artisans, market men and women and entrepreneurs.
The General Manager of the Osun Micro-Credit Loans Agency, Dayo Babaranti, had earlier announced that almost 25,000 beneficiaries had benefited from the facilities from the agency.
According to the Governor, the state borrowed N2bn from the CBN and deposited it with the Osun State micro finance Bank for the people to assess at free interest.
Aregbesola said that the government undertook to pay the interest rate pegged at 9 percent by the CBN, which totalled N186 million.
He averred that the interest people were supposed to pay on the principal borrowing was thus taken up by the government so as to make it easy for the borrowers.
Aregbesola said that against the backdrop of the current economic crisis, the whole country is neck-deep in crisis which only massive agriculture can remedy.
The governor therefore made passionate appeal to farmers across the state to stand up and redouble their efforts towards massive engagements in different forms of agricultural practices from poultry to cash and food crops.
Governor Aregbesola noted that the only panacea to the current economic imbroglio is for every serious minded government to rise to the occasion and look for alternative means by exploring the abundant potential in agriculture.
Aregbesola said: “At this critical juncture and judging from the economic crisis of the present, our state has no alternative than to diversify and stop relying on what comes from Abuja, if we must survive.
“Therefore, our dream is to turn the state into a modern, industrial and commercial agricultural state.”