Thursday, April 17, 2014

Abuja farmers demand more time to pay loan

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The income level of the farmers has increased from N10, 000 to N100, 000.

Farmers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have asked for more time to repay the loans given to them by the Abuja administraton.

The Farmers, who also asked for more incentives, said they want a two-year extension to repay the loan.

The Chairman of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Farmers Cooperatives, Marks Thomas, made the request on Wednesday in Abuja. He commended the Abuja Administration for providing about N250 million for the Community Empowerment Agriculture Revolving Loan Scheme, which has benefitted 385 poor communities across the six Area Councils in Abuja.

Mr. Thomas said that the scheme has boosted the productivity of the farmers, and increased their income levels from a range of N10, 000 and N20, 000 to over N100, 000.

“This initiative has strengthened farmers in the Area Councils and encouraged many others to take up agro-business because of increased productivity and improved income levels,” he said.

“It is a good initiative, because the farmers are being empowered and they can now afford to train their children in schools.

The Minister of State for Abuja, Olajumoke Akinjide, during an inspection tour of farms in Kuchibuyi and Guita Communities of Bwari Area Council, said that government would do everything to sustain the scheme.

The minister explained that the initiative aims at empowering women and youth in 385 poor communities identified by the FCT MDGs Baseline Survey conducted in 2008, adding that about N60 million was provided in 2010 for the loans, N120 million in 2011, and N60 million in 2012.

Of the N250 million available for farmers, the sum of N120 million has been accessed by the beneficiary communities through four microfinance banks.

“This initiative started with 60 communities across the six Area Councils in 2010, and by 2011, it was scaled up to 180 communities,” Mrs. Akinjide said. “Presently, the scheme is in 236 communities across the six Area Councils, while the remaining communities would be covered before the end of 2013.”

The Director of Economic Planning, Research and Statistics in the FCT, Ari Mohammed, said the scheme is designed to boost agricultural production, create employment and reduce poverty in the FCT.

Mr. Mohammed said under the scheme, agricultural inputs, such as tractors, improved seed, pesticides and fertilizers, are provided for the communities for cultivation; while extension workers are also deployed to the communities to supervise the various stages of production.

“The scheme will help promote value addition technology in agro processing, packaging and quality control and also revitalize the rural economy in these communities,” he said.

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