The Emir of Ilorin, His Royal Highness Alhaji Dr Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari has lamented that the bottlenecks being put in place by banks and the seeming unwillingness to part with funds discourage farmers from accessing agricultural loans under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme fund, ACGSF.
The emir’s palace, who played host to members of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme fund, ACGSF in his palace made this reaction to the address by the Chairman of the board.
He welcomes the idea of better awareness to the people of Ilorin but lamented that the difficulties encountered before assessing the loan might have discouraged many from participating in the ACGSF.
The royal father gave an example of his personal experience as a farmer in need of bank loans to support his farming but which turned difficult and discouraging.
He however assured that he would do his best cooperating in all efforts towards creating awareness but requested that there is need to remove the existent bottleneck that hitherto caused a drawback in the people.
Earlier, the Chairman of the ACGSF board, Mr Okon E. Udo in his address to the Emir said that the courtesy call was to seek the assistance of the Royal father in reaching out to the people of Ilorin in creating awareness about the opportunity of improving on farming in the state,
Also at the government house, Ilorin, the ACGSF board who paid a courtesy call on the Governor of kwara State, Alhaji AbduRahman AbdulRazaq the Central bank of Nigeria laments that the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme fund, ACGSF of the Federal Government is not enjoying enough of the participation of Nigerians especially Kwarans.
The Board laments that in its 41 years of establishment, Nigerian farmers are yet to understand what the scheme is and this is depicted in the low level of participation.
The Chairman, Board of directors of ACGSF, Mr Okon E. Udo made this observation in his opening remarks to Kwara State Governor as part of the schedule in the awareness meeting with stakeholders in Kwara State.
He said that the scheme encourages banks to lend to farmers by providing a guarantee for loans for crops and livestock production and processing.
“It mitigates risks associated with banks’ lending to agriculture through formal assurance to pay banks 75.0 percent of the net amount in default in accordance with the provisions of the enabling Act,” Udo said.
Udo added that though Kwara is the third state with the highest number of loans from the scheme, there is a need to further enlighten the public on the advantages of accessing the facilities to “empower themselves and enhance their agricultural activities and income-earning capacity.”
Reacting, Kwara State Governor, Alh. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq expressed his awareness that the best way to eradicate poverty in society is to cultivate more lands for agriculture.
“If we really want to rise above the poverty line, the way to do that is through agriculture …There is a need for a renewed focus on agriculture and agro-processing,” AbdulRazaq said on Friday when the board of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) visited him in Ilorin, the state capital.
“Kwara is located in a part of Nigeria where the land is arable. We hope to make you our partner in progress (to drive agricultural growth). We hope to work with you immediately.”
He also agreed that there is a need for more enlightenment on the activities of various government initiatives to support agriculture, adding that not many people are aware of the opportunities that are available with the ACGSF.
AbdulRazaq also disclosed the state government plans to pursue several developmental initiatives through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) one of which is the ACGSF.
At the stakeholders meeting which held at NOKTEL Resorts at GRA, Ilorin representatives of various farmers groups were in attendance to rob minds on the way forward towards better partnership with the Federal Government initiative on agricultural development through the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Many of the farmers lamented that Commercial Banks make them pass through unnecessary hurdles in a manner that discourages them from accessing agricultural loans as mandated by the CBN.
Some representatives of the banker, however, debunked such insinuation arguing that due diligence is what chases the farmers away from banks whereas the Microfinance institutions and Non Governmental Finance Institutions are said to perform better based on the testimonies of farmers who were at the programme.
At the climax of the mission, the ACGSF Board visited selected farm settlements to inspect what operation go on their and made a passionate plea that these farmers visit their banks and request for Agric loans under the ACGSF scheme.