Benin – The Edo Government has pledged support for the Rural Finance Institution Building (RUFIN) programme to ensure availability of funds for rural dwellers in the state.
Mr Joe Okojie, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, made the promise in Benin on Tuesday when RUFIN’s Leader of 11th Supervision Mission, Mr Swandip Sahin, visited the state.
The commissioner said the government was mapping out strategies to take ownership of the programme when the project was over.
According to him, Edo is an agrarian society where more than 67 per cent of the residents had something to do with agricultural activities.
According to him, the state government is putting in place measures that would boost agricultural production, especially in the rural areas.
“RUFIN is a programme through which help and relief can be to people at the grassroots.
“That is why when I took over office, I took interest in the project and I made it my project.
“I am doing my best so that, we as Government fulfil our own end of the project.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
“I promise you that we will do the needful and will do more to take ownership of the programme when RUFIN is gone.
“My hope is that, going forward, we will have better synergy so that we are able to deliver on our promises, “ he said.
Earlier, RUFIN’s Deputy National Project Coordinator, Mrs Unekwu Ufaruna, said the programme was targeted at building informal rural financial institutions, and linking them to formal micro finance institutions to access loans without collateral.
She said RUFIN had formed 700 village savings and credit groups also known as ‘esusu’ mainly made up of women.
Ufaruna said the programme was working with seven Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) in the state through which N1.2 billion had been disbursed as loans to rural farmers, since inception of the programme.
She said at the beginning of RUFIN Edo Government was regular at paying counterpart financing.
The deputy national project coordinator, however, expressed regrets that non-payment of the counterpart funds had slowed down the pace of development in the state.
She urged the government to reaffirm its commitment to payment of counterpart financing for the betterment of the rural dwellers.
Also speaking, the Leader of the Mission, Mr Swandip Sahin, said the aim of the mission was to evaluate the performance of the project in the state.
Sahin, who disclosed that the RUFIN programme has about one year left to run, said the sustainability of the project in the state was a thing of concern for the team.
He urged the government to sustain the programme for the benefit of rural dwellers when RUFIN would have finished its assignment. (NAN)