Okon Bassey in Uyo and Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that not less than 36,000 farmers in Niger state are currently benefiting from its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme(ABP).
The Niger state controller of the CBN, Mr. MashudIbrahim Tulu, who disclosed this to journalists after paying a courtesy call on Governor Abubakar Sani Bello at government house on Wednesday, said 12,000 farmers joined the scheme last farming season, while the others joined in the present cropping season.
He said that the involvement of the 36,000 farmers “is responsible for the positive results being posted by the state in rice production.”
Tulu said the CBN had rated Niger state very high among the 36 states of the federation and the FCT ” in the on- going Anchor Borrowers Scheme.”
The central bank official attributed the success story of the state in agriculture to “the commitment and political will provided by the governor.”
Tulu also praised the infrastructural development drive of the administration especially in the areas of road construction, water supply and equipping the state fire service.
In a related development, it was disclosed yesterday that more than 17, 000 persons, mostly women and youths in rural areas have registered for the ABP in Akwa Ibom state.
The ABP in the state, which is for the cultivation of rice and catfish among others attracts over N9billion to those interested in the scheme. The Managing Director of Hebron Integrated farms and an off-taker of the ABP in the state, Mr. Alphonsus Inyang, disclosed this in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital.
He said that the first stage of the programme, which was the development of the ecosystem, mobilisingsmall holdings farmers and registration into cooperative society and opening of account with the recommended bank had been successfully carried out.
Inyang, however expressed fear that the ABP may encounter some challenges in the state due to lack of facilities.
For the programme to be successful in the state, he said, there is urgent need for the state government to come to the aids of the farmers in the deployment of heavy duty equipment.
He explained that the programme was recording huge successes in the northern part of the country because they donâ€™t have the kind of thick forest that abounds in the southern part of the country.
According to him, in the north a farmer can use as little as N20, 000 to cultivate a large portion of land because it is only grass thumps which is not the case in the south.
â€œThe funding of this program, training, landverification had been on the shoulders of Hebron Integrated Farms, we are talking about several millions of naira which have gone into this programme to make it successful.
â€œWe have talked to the government on the area of land preparation for rice. In the north, you use at least N20, 000 to prepare a land, to clear, because all you have is thumps of grasses to burnt but here in the South, we have to cut down trees, remove them, and prepare the land for cultivation.
â€œWe have asked the state government to help us deploy heavy duty equipment to clear these lands and prepare them so that these rural farmers can go in and farm.
â€œThere are over 10, 000 hectares in Uruan, the whole of Oron nation, over 20, 0000 hectares and thousands other hectares of land in Onna and EketLGAs, we will not be able to farm on these landbecause of the cost to clear them,â€ Inyang lamented.
He added: â€œWe have done the training of participants with the best experts and specialists from the World Bank and Food of Agriculture Organisation for them to see agriculture as business and not a part time work which has been a major issue.
â€œIn line with the guideline, we have set up the project management team, we have agricultural development programme, the National AgricInsurance Cooperation, the Bank of Agriculture in the teamâ€, he said.