The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through Eco Bank, has empowered farmers registered under Hope Concept Cooperative with maize production inputs to strengthen agriculture business in the region.
The farmers gathered at Mologede, near Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the weekend, to receive bags of maize seeds, sprayers, herbicides, insecticides and fertilizer, among others, to improve maize production in the region, just as the country is battling with shortage of maize.
The Chairman, Maize Grower, Processor and Marketer Association of Nigeria (MAGPMAN), Ogun State, Prince Adefioye Ahmed, explained that the CBN was sponsoring the MAGPMAN in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme with these inputs in forms of a loan and inputs to farmers, which would be paid back with their harvests. He said food production rate of maize is very low in the South West, which was why the farmers were supported with the inputs.
The President, Hope Concept Cooperative, Akin Agboola, decried the bottlenecks in accessing loans from the banks to strengthen agricultural businesses in the zone, which he said was killing the morale of farmers.
He said the banks were not showing much interest in financing agriculture, except for government’s interventions, adding that “lack of access to loans from banks means at the end of every season, we will have shortage of food in the market and society.”
Agboola urged the Federal Government to extend the same support given to the North to the South West, adding that if there were no funds disbursed to farmers in the region, it would cause food shortage and increase hunger.
The National Secretary, MAGPMAN, Aremu Shola, also lamented that the state governments in the zone had not given adequate support to farmers in food production, unlike what is obtainable in the northern part of the country.
“Our governors in South West play to the gallery. Most times, they pay lip services to agriculture. We are not proud of producing any food crop in the South West and we are not serious about using agriculture to alleviate poverty, which is actually a means of alleviating poverty.
Representing the Abeokuta Branch Manager, Eco Bank, Niyi Adeotan, who is in charge of the Public Sector and Agric Unit, said supporting farmers in South West to attain self-sufficiency in food production is the core aim of the bank.