The Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN) has facilitated access to N28 billion for 360, 000 rural farmers within seven years with a repayment rate of 95 per cent.
The Deputy National Coordinator of the programme, Unekwu Ufaruna, disclosed this at a meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Zamfara Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr Ibrahim Usman.
She said the programme had also mobilised savings among beneficiaries to a tune of N15 billion within the same period of time.
The coordinator said the fund was disbursed by 60 Micro Finance Banks operating in the 12 states where the programme is being implemented.
She said RUFIN had trained all Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) in the country and they now report to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and that their loan at risk is less than five per cent.
“The rural poor had remained so because of lack of access to finance; any little effort to make life better for them you will certainly excite them,” she said.
She urged the state to pay its counterpart funds to enable the programme reach more rural dwellers in the state.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ibrahim Usman, said the government was delighted with the successes of RUFIN in the state.
Usman said he had witnessed funds being disbursed to farmers and other rural dwellers, saying that with the programme poverty was on the decrease in the areas.
He called for an extension and expansion of the programme to cover more Local Government Areas in the state in the interest of the people.
The permanent secretary said the programme had positively engaged youths in both rural and urban areas.
Earlier in his remarks, the State Coordinator of the programme, Mainasara Bakura, said the advent of RUFIN had increased activities of MFIs and organised savings groups.
He said that the organised farmer groups which have access to timely funds were being used to support the efforts of the Federal Government to diversify the economy.
Bakura applauded the Federal Government for bringing the programme to the state, saying that it was gradually moving peasant farmers to commercial farmers.
RUFIN is a programme sponsored by the Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The seven-year programme is being implemented in 12 states across the six geo-political zones in the country through group formation methodology.
The programme seeks to lift millions of rural dwellers out of poverty by providing access to finance and capacity building.