Governor Dapo Abiodun has kicked off the Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme, signalling the commencement of an agricultural revolution in the state.
Speaking at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta, the state capital, venue of the launch, Abiodun said that his government planned to turn the state into an agricultural hub, capable of feeding itself and other states in the country.
He said the scheme was another avenue to boost the nation’s self-sufficiency in food production, “which is in line with the Federal government’s agenda on food security to save foreign exchange spent annually on importation of food items that could be produced locally.”
The governor also said the scheme would help in creating employment opportunities for farmers, women and the youth in the state.
Already, about 2,000 beneficiaries have been selected and would be given certificates of acceptance and leasehold, according to the governor.
He expressed surprise that despite the success of the scheme in other states, Ogun State did not take full advantage of funds availability in it to help farmers improve their production.
He added that the scheme was a tripartite agreement between the state as facilitator; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as financier; and the beneficiaries, calling on the recipients to be committed and responsible in their repayment plan.
The governor assured that beneficiaries of the scheme would be given one hectare of land free.
“We will also provide clearing, seedlings, fertilizers, extension services and we will pay upkeep allowances until the first harvest,” he added.
The governor also disclosed at the occasion that the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) is set to site the largest agro-processing zone on the continent in the state.
He said the planned establishment was the result of several engagements by the state government with officials of the bank who had been in his office twice in the last two and half months.
AfDB is headed by former Minister of Agriculture, Professor Akinwumi Adesina, who is an indigene of the state.
“The bank decided that it was going to have two agro-processing zones in Nigeria and Adesina decided that the biggest must be sited in Ogun State. This is the result of our constructive engagements with the bank over the last 70 days or so,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Abosede Ogunleye, described agriculture as a viable sector that could absorb the teeming unemployed youths, expressing delight that the state had signed its counterpart fund and keyed into the scheme.
Head of Developing Finance of CBN, Mrs. Oluyemisi Olukoya, said the state had not done well in accessing the scheme, as only 5,249 farmers in the state were in the scheme as against 20,000 from Kebbi State.
Chairman, Ogun State Anchors Borrowers’ Scheme, Professor Bola Okuneye, said the programme was designed to link “off-takers of agricultural products with producers, so that farmers would know that there was demand for their products at an agreed and beneficial price to improve production, to guarantee abundant agricultural products in the nation.
“Ogun State is leveraging on its advantages in cassava, rice and maize value chain. There is a guarantee of off-takers, which means it is profitable from day one.”