AKS Press Release: Akwa Ibom State Govt Debunks Accusation on Agric Loans Diversion September 19, 2013Posted by Ibompulpit in Economy, Government.
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Akwa Ibom State Govt Debunks Accusation on Agric Loans Diversion
It has come to the knowledge of the Government of Akwa Ibom State,that certain faceless individuals and groups have been going about peddling false and malicious fabrications on the purported refusal by the Akwa Ibom State Government to release funds allocated to the State by the Federal Government for agricultural development.
Though Government is not interested in joining issues with these merchants of falsehood, it is expedient for the benefit of the public to clarify the misconception peddled by the online report by one Uwem Sam of Liberty Voice, Los Angeles as follows:
1. That the story that the administration of His Excellency,Governor Godswill Akpabio diverted funds released by CBN for Agriculture loans is completely false, baseless, lacking in merit and therefore of no effect.
2. That there is no pool of funds allocated or given every year to States by the Federal Government any Government Agency for agricultural development in the Country.
3. That the only funds that was given to States for agricultural development was in 2010 when the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), whereby Akwa Ibom State was allocated the sum of one Billion Naira (N1b) for on lending to farmers. Over 300 farmers and farmer- groups cutting across large, medium and small scale farmers benefited from this facility. The State was not required to pay any counterpart funds under the scheme as alleged.
4. Under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the Federal Government, funds are not released directly to States for agricultural development but rather, farmers are supported by way of subsidized inputs such as fertilizers, agro chemicals, improved seedlings and seeds, under the different commodity value chains such as oil palm, cocoa, cassava, rubber, rice, maize, cotton, soy beans, etc. Akwa Ibom State with about 300,000 registered farmers on the National Database benefited from these initiatives like other States of the Federation.
5. Credit facilities are extended to farmers at single-digit interest rates through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA). Recently, the Federal Government announced the release of Fifteen Billion Naira (N15b) for this purpose and no counterpart contribution is required from States. Farmers and farmer groups in the State have been properly sensitized on the availability of these facilities.
6. All facilities and infrastructure allocated to the State by the Federal Government since the inception of the Godswill Akpabio’s led administration have been fully accessed for the benefit of the farming populace in the State.
For the avoidance of doubt, the present administration has invested in the agricultural sector more than any other administration and has initiated various programmes to boost food production and empower farmers, and agro traders since he creation of the State. These programmes include among others:
• Women Agro-Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WAEDEP) in which over 4,500 women are trained and empowered with an interest-free loan of N250,000 each for agricultural businesses yearly since its inception in 2012.
• Integrated Farmers Scheme (IFS) where over 8,000 youths have so far been trained and empowered with a soft loan of N500,000 each by the present administration.
• Community Plantation Development Scheme (CPDS) where over 200,000 farmers who have land but no access to funding are given free inputs, eg fertilizer and agro chemical and improved seedlings and seed for production of cash/free crops e.g oil palm, cocoa and rubber.
• The State in partnership with the Federal Government and World Bank has provided grants totaling over Seven Hundred Million Naira (700m) to 2,000 co-operative groups consisting of over 30,000 farmers between 2008 and 2013 under the FADAMA III programme.
• Similarly, the Community Based Natural Resources Programme of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has provided grants totaling over Three Hundred Million Naira (N300m) to about 2,000 farmers in partnership with the State Government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
• Under the Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP), IFAD in partnership with State and Federal Governments has provided soft loans totaling N100m to about 49 farmer groups consisting of 13 Co-operatives.
• National Programme on Food Security (NPFS) of the Federal Government in partnership with State Government has provided loans to the tune of N50m to nine farming communities.
• The Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN) of IFAD in partnership with the State and Federal Governments have provided training, capacity building and linkages to rural finance institutions comprising 619 groups and nine (9) micro-finance banks in the sum of Fifty-six million Naira (N56m).
• Moreover, before the commencement of Growth Enhancement Support (GES) programme in 2011, the State Government procured and distributed over 200,000 metric tons of assorted fertilizer at 60% subsidy to farmers. Also fishing inputs such as out-board engines, fishing nets, boats and other accessories worth over N300m was distributed to 200 fishing groups in the State under the Fishing Inputs Support programme of the State Government.
From the foregoing, it is therefore totally untrue that His Excellency, Governor Godswill Akpabio has refused to release agricultural development funds from the Federal Government to farmers in the State.