The Oyo State Government, on Wednesday, flagged off the disbursement of the N1 Billion Agric Support Loan to farmers across the seven geopolitical zones of the state under the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAfER).
The state government, through the Agricultural Credit Corporation of Oyo State (ACCOS), held the symbolic presentation of the cheques to beneficiaries and participating Microfinance Banks, at the conference room of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Secretariat, Agodi Ibadan.
Presenting the dummy cheques to the beneficiaries, the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, who also doubles as the Chairman, SAfER Food Security Sub-Committee, Barr. Olasunkanmi Olaleye, noted that the agric loan support will reduce the cost of food and also sustain the economic recovery of the state.
He added that the loan facility is strictly for farmers and that it is being issued strictly based on the merit of applications, noting that the process will not be politicised.
He added that qualified farmers will be able to access between N250,000 and N1 Million based on the size of their farms, adding that the state government had, under the food security component of SAfER, distributed farm inputs and maize grains to poultry farmers.
The commissioner, who vowed that farmers in all the zones will continue to benefit from the state government’s laudable empowerment programmes, appealed to the beneficiaries to judiciously utilise the loan support and ensure that they return it as and when due for others to benefit.
He said: “We are all aware that the governor launched the SAfER sometimes ago. Food security is one of the different components of the programme, which is aimed at ameliorating the hardship of the people following the removal of fuel subsidy. We have other components such as transport support, where the state government has provided buses at reduced costs for our people.
“In the area of food security, Governor Makinde approved N1 Billion as loan facility for farmers in the state, 500 million for small-holders farmers and another N500 million for youths and young agripreneurs as well as another 500 million for micro and small scale enterprises.
“As part of food security measures, the governor has approved that inputs be given to 10,000 farmers and, as I speak to you, more than 1,450 poultry farmers have benefited from free maize grains to sustain their businesses. The government has given 8 bags of 50kg each to about 1,400 farmers and we have not stopped.
“When we finish that, we will move to the fish farmers as well. In the next few days, more than 1,000 fish farmers will benefit and after that, we will move to the cattle breeders, piggery owners and all that.
“Today, we are commencing the distribution of agric loans through the Agric Credit Corporations to farmers who have applied for the loans. A number of participating financial institutions are here and it is through them that the loans will be distributed to the farmers across the state.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of Agricultural Credit Corporation of Oyo State (ACCOS), Sheik Taofeek Akeugbagold, said the exercise which would be in phases and cover all areas of agriculture such as crop, fishery, livestock and piggery, among others, has been captured and well-integrated under the food security component of the SAfER programme.
He enjoined the beneficiaries to see the loan support as a revolving fund and ensure that farmers are in production to their capacity with a view to sustaining and maintaining food security in the state.
Also contributing, the General Manager, ACCOS, Comrade Emmanuel Ogundiran explained that the process of selecting beneficiaries was transparent, fair and non-partisan and the legitimate farmers in the state are benefiting.
One of the beneficiaries of the loan facility, Mr Ajayi Lateef Kayode, from Ogbomoso, lauded the state government for the initiative, saying: “On behalf of myself and other beneficiaries, I say thank you to the governor. I promise that this loan will be utilised strictly for the business and we will pay back so that other people can benefit from it.”