Mr Godwin Akwaji, Coordinator, Anchor Borrowers Scheme, Cross River, says the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) has verified 5,473 rice farmers for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sponsored programme.
Akwaji, who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Revenue Generation, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Sunday.
He said that the beneficiaries were among the over 12,000 farmers in the state who applied to participate in the scheme.
He said that many failed to meet the “strident” conditions stipulated by the BOA for participation in the scheme.
The coordinator said that contrary to the belief in some quarters, the scheme was progressing in the state.
“Contrary to the misinformation making the rounds, the Anchor Borrowers scheme is going on well in Cross River State.
“The Bank of Agriculture has validated 5,473 rice farmers who met all the conditions for the scheme,” he said.
He said that many of those that applied did not adhere to the guidelines for obtaining the loan, while the delay the beneficiaries were experiencing in accessing the fund was due to bank processes.
“Some people rented the rice farms. So, during the physical verification exercise, they could not show evidence that they had started doing something.”
“Many of them did not make use of the inputs given to them.”
“One of the major guidelines was the cross guarantee aspect of the conditions for the cooperative groups. For the individual borrowers, they have to provide strong guarantors.”
“I must also admit that the process by the bank is very slow. The bank ought to have adequately informed the farmers about the processes and conditions to avoid misinformation by the public,” he said.
The coordinator said the role of the state government was to act as an intermediary between the bank and the farmers.
“Ours is to ensure that the scheme succeeds in the state and to see that our farmers get their fair shares of the scheme.
“We are not involved in the disbursement of the money, but to ensure that our farmers fully take advantage of the scheme, ‘’ he stated.
Akwaji advised the people to be patient and to forward any complain regarding the scheme to his office for prompt action.
He promised that any such observation made would be taken up with the bank immediately for proper clarification and resolution.