–Iduozee Paul, Benin correspondent
To enable youths in Edo State become self reliant and provide for their household, the director of Agriculture and Fishery in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),in PortHarcourt, George Ero, has urged registered farmers in the state to put more effort into farming and agriculture.
The NDDC director gave the advice at a sensitization lecture provided for rural farmers on Anchor Borrowers’ programme in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to educate the farmers on the anchor borrowers’ fund in Edo state.
According toEro:”The programme thrust of the Anchor Borrowers’ programme is provision of farm inputs in type and cash for farm labor to small holder farmers to boost production of these commodities, stabilized inputs supply to agro- processors and addressing the country’s negative balance of payments on food.
“At harvest the small holders supplies his/her produce to the agro-processors that are the anchor who pay the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account. The programme evolved from consultation with stakeholders comprising of the federal ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, state governors, millers of agricultural produce and small holder farmers, to enhance agricultural production and non-oil exports in the face of unpredictable crude oil prices and its resultant effects on the revenue profile of Nigeria.”
He explained that the sensitization lecture is organized to inform farmers on how to access loans and other facilities for agricultural production. He said nine states in the Niger Delta partake in the programme and the event was launched by President MuhammaduBuhari , November 17, 2015, to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in processing and small holder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
” NDDC has made giant strides in the promotional of agricultural development through the implementation of entrepreneurial skills development programme among the youths and women, disbursements of micro credit facility to NDDC trained farmers, procurement and distribution of tractor and fishing tools for farmers and fisher folk respectively in the region,” he added.
Educating the farmers on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, guest speaker at the event, Deborah Osagide, told the farmers that, before they are given funds to start their farming business they must inspect their farm to really know if they are registered farmers in the state.
She therefore listed some of the aims that goes with the anchor borrowers programme. She said some of the aims are to increase bank finaancing to the agricultural sector, to reduce agricultural commodities importation and conserve external reserves, to increase capacity utilization of agricultural firms.
Others is to deepen the cashless policy and financial inclusion, to assist rural small holder farmers to grow from subsistence to Commercial production level, create new generation of farmers,/entrepreneurs and to reduce the level of poverty among small holder farmers.
In his speech, the acting managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission, Prof. Nelson Braimbraifa, said the agricultural potentials of the region are high despite the ecology that is predominantly rain forest and swamps.
He said the NNDC aims are to promote food security and improve income and living standards of rural farmers noting that farming in the region is virtually practiced at subsistence level with most farmers resident in the rural areas and lacking financial resources and technology for mass food production to sustain the growing population in the region.
In his remarks, the Edo state NDDC Lesion Officer, Hon. Saturday Idehen, said they are here to empower farmers on the best ways they can improve their agricultural productive and how they can access loans and other agricultural facilities that will boost their farms produces. He there is inequality in the commission which they are trying to solve to enable them provide solution to the plight ravaging the Commission.
The event also provided room for questions from over 200 farmers who participated in the anchor borrowersprogramme.