Agric Minister Laments Low Access to Loans By Cooperatives

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Laleye Dipo in Minna

Minister of Agriculture Chief Audi Ogbeh has expressed worry over the low access to credit facilities by cooperative societies in the country despite the various windows provided by government.

Ogbeh made the observation when he addressed the 6th meeting of the National Council on Cooperative Affairs which opened at the Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre Minna Niger State on Tuesday.

“It is pertinent to note at this point that one major problem bedeviling the cooperative sector is low access to credit for agricultural activities from financial service providers despite the several agricultural credit windows provided by government through commercial agricultural credit schemes, micro small and medium enterprise development fund, fund for agricultural financing.”

He noted that cooperative societies are the instruments for driving the nation’s agricultural and cottage industries, and urged that deliberate measures should be taken to “make the requirements in accessing these funds more friendly to the illiterate and semi literate rural poor who are the actual targets of these funds.”

The minister, who was represented at the event by a Director in the Ministry Mrs. Janet Jiya, challenged cooperative societies “to see their activities first and foremost as a business, the very same way agriculture is seen today.”

“Cooperative is thus expected to work hard along diverse value chain, to justify the recommendation of the United Nations and other international agencies as the major alternative and fastest growing business model, to empower and transform the rural communities”, he stressed.
Ogbeh said the ministry in order to achieve the desired Cooperative Reforms would vigorously pursue the release and passage of the reviewed Cooperative Societies Acts, and Subsidiary legislation by the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly
The Minister disclosed that the Data Analysis System project introduced to establish a ” standard cooperative data base for the country is still on” adding that ” at the last count a total of 23,806 registered cooperative societies have been encoded into the data base”.

Meanwhile, the Niger state government disclosed at the event that it had worked out modalities to ease access of Cooperatives to credit facilities.

The Commissioner for Investment Hajia Ramatu Mohammed Yaardua, who made the position of government known said government had also provided an enabling environment for cooperative societies to perform their duties effectively.