As part of its efforts to revitalize the agricultural sector of Osun, the state government has provided N329 million as agricultural input based loans to maize farmers, under the Anchors Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
The programme saw the Osun State Government partner with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Unity Bank and the Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria (MFAN), to empower 2,038 maize farmers in the state.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Adedayo Adewole, in his address, said the event marked a new milestone in the state.
He said, “There’s been a tremendous improvement in the number of beneficiaries under this programme in the past two years; but the Governor and the Ministry of Agriculture want more; N329million is a good sum though small compared to what other states get. So, we are hoping to empower farmers to the tune of N10billion in the nearest future.”
The State Director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Engr. Atoyebi Sunday, representing the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, applauded the government’s efforts at achieving the zero-hunger agenda of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
He said, “It is important that we invest more strategic efforts to develop agriculture in the state. This can only be possible when we begin to see agriculture as a business, not a developmental programme or project.
“The objective of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is that come 2021, there will be no hunger in Nigeria. We are glad that the Governor of Osun is working to actualise this.”
In her address, the Head of Development Finance Office, Central Bank of Nigeria, Osogbo Branch, Oluyemisi Adebayo, said that the initiative is aimed at enabling the nation reduce its huge food import bill and conserve the nation’s foreign reserves.
She said, “To our farmers and other stakeholders, we appeal to you to roll up your sleeves to ensure we deliver on the mandate given. It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. So, let us work hard to justify the investment and trust placed on us by the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure we fulfill the objectives of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.”
The Southwest Zonal Coordinator of the Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Benjamin Adewunmi, lauded the State Government for the programme, adding that the entire southwest had been backward in agricultural terms hitherto.
According to him: “We have been backward in terms of Agriculture in the southwest because we derailed from the landmark set for us by our fathers. However, I’m delighted by this development in the State of Osun, made possible by the intervention of the State Government”.
Adewunmi counselled farmers to buckle up, saying that the gains recorded in the North should also be replicated in the southwest, adding that “we must take agriculture as a business, and leverage on the interventions of the government.”
One of the beneficiaries, Abdullatif Adesiyan, commended the initiative as an opportunity for farmers to improve their deliverables.
He said: “As far as this programme is concerned, a number of challenges will be eradicated while productivity will be greatly increased in agricultural terms. With this in place, the country will be in a balanced condition.”