GOVERNOR Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State on Monday disbursed N23.9 million to 70 young farmers and agro-entrepreneurs to support them to start their own agricultural ventures.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the disbursement coincided with 2016 World Food Day.
The day has as its theme: “Climate is Changing, Food and Agriculture Must too.’’
Mimiko, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr Kola Ademujimi, said that the loan was at a single interest rate of 2.5 per cent for a period of two years with a moratorium period of six months.
The governor said that it was in line with his administration’s resolve to support micro and small businesses.
“This administration through Ondo State Micro Credit Agency (OSMA) has also disbursed about N3 billion under different schemes, targeting market women, artisan groups and small businesses.
“Over N1.5 billion was disbursed directly by the state government and another N1.4 billion had been disbursed under the ODSG/CBN MSMEs loan scheme,” he said.
The governor, therefore, charged the beneficiaries to use the funds judiciously and for its purpose.
According to him, all funds given would be repaid because there is monitoring team put in place to ensure prompt repayment.
He urged those that could not benefit from the disbursement not to be discouraged, assuring them that another batch of disbursement would be carried out soon.
NAN reports that the loan amount ranged from N250, 000 to N500, 000 per beneficiary for a period of two years with submission of their original degree certificates and NYSC certificates as collateral.
Also speaking, the Chairman of WECA, Bolanle Funmiloye, said that the loan was to support small holder farmers as they were the keys to food security.
Funmiloye said that it was another milestone of continuous mission to engage the youth productivity and transform them into wealth creators and employers of labour using the agricultural sector as a vehicle.
She added the agency has a mandate to develop a new crop of young professional farmers and entrepreneurs that would use agriculture as a tool for wealth creation in the state.
“The agency established four Agro Business Cities in three senatorial districts in the state and set up agricultural processing centres in Akure.
“Since inception, over 2,500 of the youths have benefitted from this programme,’’ she said.
According to her, 630 graduates have also benefitted from Pro-farmers and Agro-entrepreneurs Sustainable Scheme (PASS) since its inauguration in 2014 by Gov. Mimiko.
She said that the beneficiaries, who were trained for 12-18 months were given between N10,000 – N30,000 profit from sales of agricultural products.
The chairman stated that the agency has variety of products, which are specially produced and has WECA logo such as: ‘eja WECA’, ‘Adiye WECA’, ‘Agbado WECA’; ‘Ege WECA’, `Eyin WECA’ and WECA beef from the programme, saying other products would soon be added.
Funmiloye said that the state through WECA has the best government-driven strategy and programmes for youths in agriculture and agri-business in the country.
Two of the beneficiaries, Mr Kayode Oni, a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology 2011 from Obafemi Awolowo, University, Ile-Ife, got N350,000 and Mrs Grace Oni, a graduate of Federal Polytechnic, Ado- Ekiti, got N250,000.00.
They said it was a rare privilege, saying they could start their poultry business and maize plantations effectively.