The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted N14.9 billion loan to the North East Commodity Association (NECAS), on the platform of its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Alhaji Sadiq Deware, National President, NECAS, disclosed to newsmen in Abuja, that the loan is for a period of one year at a single digit of 9 per cent.
He said under the programme 27,000 farmers would benefit while 75,000 hectares of land would be cultivated in the four participating states.
“The beneficiaries were farmers were mainly affected by the insurgency in Taraba, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa and Yobe states.
Deware explained that Borno state was not included as a result of the insecurity in the state.
He explained that out of the 27,000 farmers 10,000 out of them were from Gombe State, and attributed the development to their dedication and commitment in terms of farming activities.
“For example 11,525 farmers are cultivating 38,678 hectares of land for maize, sorghum, soya beans , rice and cotton, while the nearest to it Yobe state is cultivating 14,666 hectares of land by 5,676 farmers.
He said the programme would cover all the commodities that the North east have comparative advantage of producing which includes, rice, maize, millet, sorghum and even small ruminants amongst others.
Deware said that inputs would be given to farmers on loan basis and they were expected to pay back in three phases.
“Starting with first payment of 40 per cent after the first farming cycle, then they would pay the remaining two cycles of 30 per cent making a total of 100 per cent.
“Before now, the size of each farm had been captured and an identity card was issued to each of the beneficiaries of the project for easy identification and documentation to enable them to access the required support,’’ he said.
Daware said that the project was a modified version of the ABP, which was aimed at strengthening efforts to attain bumper harvests and expressed the optimism that the new initiative would double the achievements of the ABP.
He said that under the new initiative, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had modified the programme to facilitate its direct relations with NECAS so as to ensure timely disbursement and full repayment of ABP loans, unlike what obtained in the past.
Deware disclosed that the association has re-absorbed some of the retired extension agents in the beneficiary states and re-trained them on modern technologies in enhancing their job performance.
“NECAS under the programme has commenced the recruitment of retired but willing to work extension workers in order to boost support for farmers and ensure proper sensitisation on new farming methods as well as advise on any problem faced by farmers.
He said that more than 128 extension agents were recruited for the programme in Adamawa state as it was in other states.
Dware said that for the successful implementation of the exercise the extension workers have been taught the working systems of modern technologies in service delivery and they are optimistic that the training would be beneficial to the farmers.
According to him, the efforts are geared toward encouraging increased agricultural production in line with the drive to diversify the economy.
He said this has become imperative because the role of agricultural extension agents in the development of agriculture throughout the world is very essential.
“It has remained one of the prime movers in the development of agriculture and invariably in the rural development.
“There specific objectives as agricultural extension officers were to provide advice to farmers on problems or opportunities in agricultural production, facilitate development of local skills and transfer new technologies to farmers and rural people,’’ he said.
Deware said they have also developed a suitable extension service that is gender specific and tailored to women farmers.