• Says Nigeria has recorded milestones via policy
• Kano farmers justify ‘failure’ of rice scheme
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has commended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele and his management team for restricting foreign exchange (forex) supply for the importation of 41 items that could be procured locally.
The minister noted that the outcry that greeted the policy notwithstanding, the move had fostered many achievements the country recorded recently in the area of rice and other food production, pointing out that, always, good policies were never popular at inception.
Ogbeh, who spoke at the weekend in Abuja during a stakeholders’ meeting on agricultural value chain, noted the gathering was to articulate best strategies for the implementation of a new programme to boost employment and ensure food security under the Accelerated Agricultural and Development Scheme (AADS). He said the project aims to give single-digit interest rate grants to 10,000 youths from each state of the federation to invest in farming and ancillary services.
He was also fully of praises for the apex bank’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme where facilities had been made available to boost rice farming nationwide.The governors of Kebbi and Jigawa states, Atiku Bagudu and Mohammed Badaru Abubakar as well as Emefiele and youths drawn from across the federation stressed that agriculture holds the key to the nation’s long-sought long-term sustainable development.
On the initiative, put in place by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the CBN governor said the project was primarily targeting unemployed youths of ages 18 to 35.
“I believe we are on the verge of something very significant with the AADS. This scheme has been designed to create an ecosystem with the active participation of the public sector, state governments and the private sector,’’ he said.
Emefiele said state governments are to provide contiguous arable land, basic infrastructure, efficient extension services, training and mentoring of the beneficiaries.Meanwhile, rice farmers in Kano have advanced reasons while the apex bank’s borrower programme failed in the state.
According to them, the banes of the scheme were lack of political will, interference, among other factors.Besides, they lamented late disbursement and high interest rate.
In Kano, 5,540 farmers were said to have benefited N163,707 each, amounting to N907 million.In a chat with newsmen, the state chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Abubakar Haruna Aliyu, added that negligence on the part of members partly contributed to the failure of the scheme.