The Kano State Government has expressed concern over the refusal of rice farmers to refund over N900 million loans which were advanced to them under the Anchor Borrowers’ programme.
Prof Mahmoud Daneji, the Managing Director of the state Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA), made the complaint at a news conference in Kano on Monday.
The news conference was organised by Sasakawa Global 2000 to review the media field day, during which the team visited farmers in Kano, Jigawa and Gombe states, last week.
“I am not happy to say that some of our rice farmers that benefited from the CBN anchor borrowers’ programme are yet to refund over N900 million.
“A total of N906 million was disbursed to the farmers but regrettably, not up to N6 million was recovered from the money, as most of the farmers think that it is a national cake,’’ he said.
Daneji said the state had no fewer than 1, 800 extension agents that worked directly with farmers in the state.
“If the extension link is missing, then farmers or agriculture generally will not develop, hence the government’s decision to recruit more extension workers.’’
Daneji disclosed that the state had within the last one and a half years recruited 729 extension workers to support farmers across the 44 Local Government Areas of the state.
He said the decision to recruit the extension workers was borne out of the state government’s effort to boost agricultural production in the state.
“The current ratio of extension agents to farmers in the state is one extension worker to 300 farmers, while the United Nations recommendation is one extension worker to 250 farmers,’’ Daneji said.
He commended Sasakawa Global 2000 for training the 100 newly-recruited extension workers.
The KNARDA chief executive added that the state government had established five Farmer Information Centres which would soon be inaugurated.
In his remarks, the SG 2000 Country Director, Prof Sani Ahmed-Miko, said the visit to the farmers in the three states had afforded the team the opportunity to interact with farmers.
According to him, the visit had given journalists the opportunity to hear from the beneficiaries of the SG 2000 intervention programmes, especially on the improved production technologies that are being promoted.
Irked by the farmers attitude, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) recently constituted a committee to recover the loans from the defaulting farmers in the state.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), designed to assist farmers with loans to enable them to be able to procure farm inputs, to enhance their productivity.