Bauchi farmers to access N15b CBN interest-free agricultural Loan

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By; Mohammed Kawu, Bauchi.
Farmers in Bauchi State can access about N15 billion agricultural loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), following the provision of N1.5 billion made by the state government as contribution to farmers’ equity that will also settle interest charges.
Governor Mohammed Abubakar Wednesday gave the assurance for access to the loans by farmers at a town hall meeting between the state government, CBN, Financial Institutions, Anchor Companies, Agro Dealers and Farmers for Anchor Borrowers in Bauchi State.
Abubakar, who explained that discussions have reached an advanced stage with financial institutions on how to release funds to the benefitting farmers for the success of the programme, said the provisions of N1.5 billion in the 2016 budget as state government’s contribution to farmers’ equity is to settle the interest charged by the banks and allay the fears of farmers who always avoid banks loans.
“Agriculture no doubt remains the main stay of over 80 per cent of people who reside in both urban and rural areas and remain the only source of food and raw materials to our agro-based industries which henceforth serve as major source of income for our country”, he said.
The Governor noted that the programme is one of the CBN’s policy initiatives that seek to pursue development objectives of job creation, reduction in food imports and diversification of the economy by creating economic linkages between 200,000 smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilization of integrated mills.
While assuring that Bauchi is among northern states that have the capacity of producing the crops needed to feeding the whole of the country, Abubakar however lamented that successive regimes have neglected that important sector, stressing that if the name of Agricultural Development Programme is mentioned, the entire nation knows it is a serious institution that has carved a niche for itself.
He revealed that Bauchi state government has registered over 800,000 farmers under the NAPI programme with a view to having more registered farmers in the State, saying the vision of his administration in agriculture for the state is empowering small scale farmers to produce enough to feed the entire population and even beyond, thereby making the nation self-sufficient in food production.
The Governor said that Bauchi State is blessed with enormous human and untapped mineral resources that must be harnessed to fight the twin evils of hunger and poverty, pointing out that the State Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with commercial banks, agricultural insurance and apex farmer associations are identified and registered to fast track the commencement of the programme.

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