N4bn agric loan: Pay back now or face prosecution, El-Rufai tells farmers
//Agriculture: O Shola, Kaduna//
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has called on 12,000 farmers who benefited from N4billion agric loan under Anchor Borrowers Programme to pay back with farm produce as contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed ab initio or face prosecution accordingly.
The governor said there should be no excuse whatsoever other than surrender their farm produce which cut across three crops; maize, rice and soya beans in other to encourage the federal government to continue with the programme which he quickly added, was to guide against food scarcity in the country, vowing that any farmer trying to play fast game will be prosecuted.
The Anchor Borrowers Programme is a Federal Government initiative aimed at providing small scale farmers with farm input and soft loan to plant, weed and harvest the franchise crops of maize, rice and soya bean and remit the production cost with produce. The minimum entry requirement is that a farmer must have at least one hectare of land to farm.
El-Rufai, who raised the alarm through his Commissioner in the State’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Manzo Daniel Maigari over the weekend explained that, the N4billion was distributed to about 12, 000 farmer at the rate of 175, 000 per hectare with expectation that an hectare should give the gross turn over of about N450,000 which make it very possible to pay back as agreed.
According to him, “we have been able to capture 12,000 farmers across the three crops which are maize, rice and soya beans. Everything that went into wet season is about N4 billion. This is the time farmers are expected to surrender their farm produce covered under the anchor. It is important because if they don’t pay with the produce, the programme will not continue.
“Secondly, if they fail to pay, they will not go scot free. So, we are appealing to our farmers as stipulated in the programme that irrespective of irregularities, whatever grudges they may have, they should just make effort to submit the produce under the programme so that we can jointly look at the challenges we have during the wet season and prepare for the next season.
“It is expected that about 4.5 tons of grains will be produced per hectare. We expect that we will have 74,451 metric tons of maize, 10,155 metric tons of soya beans and 1,155 metric tons of rice during the harvest period of wet season farm produce.
“Since it is the partnership we started together. Let encourage the FG in its efforts to diversify the economy. Some of the farmers that are old know that the last time we have a programme that target small farmers like this was during Ahmadu Bello. Its natural that we may have toothing problems, but we have learnt our lessons and things can only get better.
“This is harvest season. All their crops have been harvested. It is expected that when they harvest, they will surrender the produce to the Offtakers because some of them have started aggregating their produce. Some farmers are trying to play smart bringing one excuse or the other. No excuse is good enough”, added the commissioner.
On the farmers who may have genuine reasons for their inability to pay back as agreed he said, “whatever challenge even if it is genuine, that can only be guarantee by Nigerian Agricultural Enterprise Curriculum (NAEC).
“NAEC has been on the move for more than a month now. They have visited farms where farmers claimed to have challenge. NAEC was brought in to ensure this don’t happen. They will do their work and and quantify and certify the setback and the insurance company will pay them back because the programme is insured”.
He further added that to guide against foreigners coming to pack away the farm produce out of the state, the state government has alerted the FG to come in and he believed, that is being attended to by the FG
“I know the FG has out up a mob up regime to mob up the grains into strategic food reserves so there can be release when the grains are scarce and unavailable. So as it is, it is a robust programme and we cannot allow any farmer to truncate the programme. Already, a bag of maize is sold at N10,000. That means there is no farmer that can claim loss.
He however identified inadequate support from commercial banks, bank verification number, poor network as major challenge facing the scheme.