Akwa Ibom Govt. secures N10bn loan for rice farmers, says Commissioner

The Akwa Ibom Government has secured N10 billion loan from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for rice farmers to improve on their production in the state.

Dr Matthew Ekaette, the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Uyo on Saturday.

The commissioner said that the 43, 000 registered rice farmers would benefit from the loan scheme.

Ekaette said the programme was an initiative of CBN in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture aimed at creating an Ecosystem to link out growers (small holder farmers in the state).

“We have secured N10 billion for Small and Medium Scale rice growers through CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme (CBN/ABP) in the state.

Ekaette told NAN that rice farmers had been mobilised and registered to benefit from the programme.

“We have been able to mobilise the farmers and register them; earlier we had 2, 000 of them but with this mobilisation and sensitisation the number had increased.

“We have been able to speak with the various groups, the Rice Farmers Association, Akwa Ibom Branch, and that number had been scaled up to 43,000.” he said.

He explained that CBN was targeting N210, 000 per hectare of land, which covers the cost of farm inputs, seedlings, labour and land clearing.

The Commissioner said that the money would be paid to the agricultural account of the farmers in the state.

“We have scale up the level of rice production from about 10 hectare to about 48 hectares; we want to ensure that our farmers are mobilised.

“There is need for them to go all out and open agriculture bank account and get their Bank Verification Number, so that when the time comes for the loan to be disbursed we can pay into the accounts.

“One of the conditions is that we will be able to develop and identify off takers and this is another problems that have been affecting agriculture and availability of market.

“We have been producing and the linkage has been from the farm to kitchen, and there is need to encourage commercial agriculture,’’ Ekaette said.