By Muftau Ogunyemi
Akure – No fewer than 5,000 Fadama farmers will benefit from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) credit scheme in Ondo State to expand and boost their farms.
Mr Olusiji Olatunji, the Fadama III State Project Coordinator, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Akure, after a one-day sensitisation for Fadama farmers by NIRSAL.
Olatunji, who said that Fadama lll AF project would close by December, explained that the national office of Fadama, NIRSAL and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had collaborated to support the farmers to allow them credit facilities from the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme.
He said that the sensitisation had become imperative so that farmers could know the importance of the credit scheme, the benefits therein as well as the rules and procedure for the credit.
“Fadama III AF project had been supporting farmers with grants for the past 10 years to produce food, but the time of grant is over; it is now farming as a business.
“So, Fadama project is arranging a credit scheme for our over 5,000 farmers in the state who are already organised in clusters or groups.
“The benefit will vary according to their hectares of land. For example, farmers who want to do 10 hectares will take more than those with one hectare, and they are going to prepare the cost of production before it can be granted,” he said.
Olatunji urged farmers to take advantage of the scheme to expand their farms and boost their business.
“Farmers should come out to apply for the credit scheme so that they can expand from the initial hectares so that those who are doing one or two hectares can do five or six,” he said.
Mr Akinyele Aluko, Head of Project Monitoring and Remediation, NIRSA office in Akure, said that the gesture was part of efforts of the NIRSAL Managing Director, Alhaji Aliu Lamidi, to ensure agricultural transformation in the country.
Aluko, who said that the World Bank had withdrawn the assistance hitherto being rendered to farmers, explained that NIRSAL was the only institution that could sustain the benefit and support Fadama III farmers in the country.
“We have a practical experience to bring farmers to what we call real agriculture business by moving them from grant-taking farmers to those who can confidently take loans, work with it and repay within one year.
“We are determined to continue to grow agricultural ventures until Nigeria attains the sustainable agricultural production we have been talking about.
“This is the era of ‘agric’ business and the most lucrative business anybody can do is agric because everybody will eat; even animals too will eat; so food can never waste,” he said.
Aluko said that the benefits would depend on how many farmers were ready to take the scheme and how many hectares of land would be available for cultivation.
He explained that these would be the determinant of how much money would eventually be coming to the state.
Aluko, who said that NIRSAL’s target was limitless number of farmers, explained that “as long as they come up genuinely and meet all our conditions, NIRSAL is ready to provide support.”
Mr Adegboyega Adefarati, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, assured NIRSAL that government would ensure that only real farmers benefited from the scheme.
Adefarati, who was represented by Mr Kunle Sanni, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said that the state government was ready to work and partner with NIRSAL for the success of the programme.
“We will ensure that our farmers use the money for the purpose they collected it for. We are going to monitor them because this is not a national cake. Whoever that is going to collect the money must pay back as and when due,” he said.