As part of its efforts to revitalise the agricultural sector of Osun State, the government has provided the sum of N329 million as agricultural input based loans (Economies of Production) to maize farmers, under the Anchors Borrowers’ Programme.
The programme saw the Osun State government partner with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Unity Bank and the Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, 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 Ministry of Agriculture and in the State of Osun as a whole.
His words: “I will like to thank His Excellency, the Governor of the State of Osun, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, for his renewed passion for revitalising agriculture in the State of Osun.
“This is a big programme as far as agriculture is concerned in the State of Osun, one that should have necessitated a carnival, but we understand that the COVID-19 safety protocols must be strictly adhered to.
“This is because 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.
“Today, each farmer is getting an EOP of N161,815.96, bringing the total disbursement to N329,780,926.48.
“N329 million is a good sum though small compared to what other states get. So, we are hoping to empower farmers to the tune of N10 billion in the nearest future.
“We will like to thank the Central Bank of Nigeria and other development partners for this milestone, while we encourage more farmers to register with the Ministry in order to benefit from empowerment schemes,” Adewole stated.
The State Director of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Engr. Atoyebi Sunday, representing the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, applauded the Osun State government for its efforts to achieve the zero hunger agenda of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
He said: “I want to congratulate farmers in the state, and also appreciate the authority for organising this programme. It is a good thing to be a farmer and it is important that farmers know their roles.
“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, Mrs Oluyemisi Adebayo, said that the initiative was aimed at enabling the nation reduce its huge food import bill and conserve the nation’s foreign reserves.
According to her: “In Osun State, some groups of farmers had benefitted from the ABP programme, which include fish, poultry, rice and cotton farmers. Today, 2,038 maize farmers in the state will join the list of beneficiaries of the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
“We appreciate the government of Osun State for her assistance and collaborative efforts particularly through the State Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in the execution of all these projects.
“While thanking you, we also look forward to working further with you to boost the economy of the state through resuscitation of the real sector of the economy of the state.
“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”, Adebayo said.
The Southwest Zonal Coordinator of the Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Benjamin Adewunmi, lauded the state government for the programme, adding that the entire South-West had been backward in agricultural terms hitherto.
According to him: “We have been backward in terms of Agriculture in the South-West 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 down, saying that the gains recorded in the North should also be replicated in the South-West, adding that “we must take agriculture as a business, and leverage on the interventions of the government.”
The state chairman of the Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Oyewale Ibrahim, said the association had been in existence for over 20 years, but had witnessed very little interventions.
He said in 2018, only 28 maize farmers benefitted from the ABP, while in 2019, 14 maize farmers were empowered under the scheme.
He said: “Year 2020 has been a year of significant improvement and we want to appreciate the Governor of the State of Osun for his efforts.”
The representative of Unity Bank, Mr. Bodunrin, in his own address, appreciated the State Government of Osun for the improvements recorded so far in agriculture, adding that what the government had done so far was record breaking.
In his words: “Agriculture programme was at its infantry in Osun before now, but a number of programmes have been instituted to help the sector, and more development partners are beginning to register their interests in supporting the state, and this is very commendable.”
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Abdullatif Adesiyan, appreciated the governor of the State of Osun for the opportunity given to farmers to improve their deliverables.
Adesiyan said: “We thank God and we thank the governor for giving us this opportunity. This kind of intervention is what we have been waiting for. 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.”
Another beneficiary, Mr Suleiman Muritala Atanda, expressed gratitude to the state government of Osun, adding that the economies of production will be used judiciously in a bid to create impacts in the society in terms of food security.