Governor Idris Wada

He noted that any fund mobilised through national, state and local apex bodies of the cooperatives would definitely get to the real farmers at the grassroots.

Stakeholders in Agriculture in Kogi on Saturday urged the Federal Government to remove bottlenecks associated with access to agricultural funds.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lokoja that the bottlenecks were making it difficult for rural farmers to access agriculture loans.

The President, Women in Agriculture Cooperative Federation (WACF), Mrs Esther Audu, called for the removal of the percentage equity contributions on the loans.

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Audu said that 85 per cent of the real rural farmers, who were ready to utilise the funds for food production, could not afford the equity contributions of between 10 per cent and 25 per cent.

She gave an instance of the Federal Government’s five million naira rice loan under the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) from CBN.

Audu pointed out that many rural farmers could not afford N500,000 because of the 10 per cent equity contribution demanded by banks.

She added that the process would be hijacked by the rich politicians and portfolio farmers, who could afford the equity contribution.

“The fund will eventually not get to the targeted real rural farmers,’’ she said.

She, therefore, appealed to the government to remove the equity share as one of the condition, to enable the rural farmers benefit from all agricultural funds.

She suggested that the farmlands of farmers should be used as collateral.

“The CBN, the Agro-Allied Dealers and other stakeholders should ensure that any loan given to farmers is fully utilised for the intended purpose.

“If government can make the loan accessible to farmers, it will enhance massive food production and rapid economic growth,’’ Audu said.

Another stakeholder, Mr Halidu Ademu, the state’s Secretary of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), urged the Federal Government to address the problem of middlemen in accessing agricultural funds.

According to him, the intermediaries between the government and farmers will make the process more costly and difficult for farmers to easily access agric funds.

Ademu advised that the government should mobilise funds to farmers through cooperatives’ societies that have direct contacts with real rural farmers.

He noted that any fund mobilised through national, state and local apex bodies of the cooperatives would definitely get to the real farmers at the grassroots.

“Funds mobilised through cooperatives apex bodies at national, state and local levels, will be easily accessible to real rural farmers.

“The cooperative federations in collaborations with AFAN are geared toward supporting the government for rapid economic growth through agriculture,’’ Ademu said.

He commended the efforts of the Federal Government toward the development of the non-formal sector.

Ademu, however, urged government to focus more on food production and agricultural development as substitute to the dwindling oil revenue.

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