Kogi Farmers, Govt Bicker Over N2m Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme

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There appears to be a sharp disagreement between some farmers in Kogi and the state government in the implementation of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) Anchor Borrowers’ programme. There are allegations that beneficiaries are being shortchanged.

Some of the farmers under the scheme are crying foul over the programme implementation, alleging that they were denied the N2 million grant component of the scheme about a year after farming equipment were released by the state government.

They claimed that soon after the takeoff of the Anchor Borrowers’ programme, the government announced a slash in the grant to N200,000 and later to N75,000, adding that they were however yet to access any of the money.

Speaking with The Nation in Lokoja, the state capital, one of the aggrieved farmers, Mr. Francis Angulu said that the government has put them in a dilemma, “having invested so much in the enterprise”.

He further alleged that farming inputs, including seedlings were sold to them at exorbitant rate by the government appointed consultants.

He listed some of the rates at which they bought the input to include: Rice seeds – N20,000, NPK (four bags) – N34,000, urea (two bags) – N17,000, emstate (three liters) – N6,000, AgricShop – N6,000, Ag-zyme – N6,000, water pump – N55,650 and bird nets (six) – N27,000.

The government in a swift reaction however debunked the allegations, saying that the farmers rather went about the Anchor Borrowers’ programne with an entirely wrong mindset.

The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Kehinde Oloruntoba, said six months after the takeoff, the farmers were unable to show evidence of harvest from their rice paddies, while some of them outright sold the inputs provided them by the government, not minding that the programme is profit-oriented.

He said, “I began as supervisory commissioner late December (2016). As at the time, Anchor programme was already on. I met them packaging it. There was dry season farming, and equipment given in February, and by June you ought to be getting harvest from the rice paddies.

“When they took the input, some of them did not even plant, some were even selling the equipment. It is not a purely state arrangement, the CBN is backing it. And, with what they saw, the suppliers are asking for their money. So, we beckoned on them to return the equipment, since they are not using it.

“That is something with some of them; they believe it is their share of the ‘National Cake’. They should even be sued for breach of contract. We can’t be wasting taxpayers’ money. How can I write to government to bring money; that is not how we run government here. How can they say there is foul play? There is no foul play here in Kogi State on the Anchor Borrowers’ programme”.

Under the programme as rolled out by the CBN, six commodities, namely, rice, wheat, maize, soya beans, cotton and fish were to be cultivated by the farmers, and while their counterparts in places like Kebbi have been receiving commendations by their government over their success in its implementation, such appears not to be the case in Kogi.

Credit: The Nation

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