Prospective beneficiaries of the Ogun State Cotton Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) are gradually running out of patience, due to the inactivity of the handlers in the state.
For 11 months now, the registered farmers, especially youths under the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), who have been shortlisted and enlisted for the scheme, have been kept in the dark, as they are not in the know of the progress of the scheme.
The Guardian learnt that the enlistment for the cotton-farming programme, which kicked off February 7, 2020 across the 20 Council Areas, was targeted at accommodating 50 youths, while affiliate organisation is expected to present 25 youths for enlistment.
Four months after, June to be precise, qualified candidates were notified and were mobilised for account opening in their various council areas. But since then, there has been no update.
Currently, the patience of the prospective beneficiaries is gradually turning to uncertainty, as it seems there is no hope in sight 11 months after they enrolled.
Those who spoke to The Guardian but did not want their names mentioned for fear of victimisation, said though the programme appears to be a game-changer in the agriculture sector in the state and beyond, the stalemate has made them to lose hope.
“We were very optimistic when we received information about the take-off of the programme and when we were eventually shortlisted and individual accounts were opened for all the prospective beneficiaries. It is sad that despite having our data, including our phone numbers, we are yet to hear anything from government or the handlers since last June.
“Majority of those who enlisted had lost hope, it is like another political gimmick to deceive Nigerians.”
Through the Ministry of Agriculture, efforts were made to get the state chairman of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), to comment on the issue, but he was said to be on the field engaged with harvest.
But the Press Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Ahmed Taofeek, who noted that 10,000 hectares of land had been allocated for the programme, among other interventions, said in a couple of weeks, activities of the state in relation to the ABP would continue.
“Remember that 40,000 smallholder farmers were empowered last year at the event coordinated by the wife of the governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun. This is apart from the various empowerment programmes for farmers and commodity associations. The ministry is also targeting the commencement of the rainy season before rolling out the empowerment,” he said.