By Anayo Okoli
Umuahiaâ€”THE Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Mr. Gbenga Makunjuola, has said that the House had mandated his Committee to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the N200 billion Agricultural Loan, which is yet to be assessed by any farmer.
Makunjuola told journalists in Umudike, Abia State,Â that the investigation was prompted byÂ the insinuations in some quarters,Â that the money which was floated by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,Â for the development of commercial agriculture was being kept in a particular bank, where it is yielding interest for some unnamed persons.
â€œThe House has mandated the Committee on Agriculture to investigate the matter because the allegation is that the money is being kept in a certain bank and that it has been yielding interest and we need to find out the rationale behind it.
â€œThe Governorâ€™s Forum is agitating for the early disbursement of the fund and up till now, the money has not been released,â€ the lawmaker who was at Umudike to participate in a workshop organised by the National Roots Crops Research Institute, said. He said he was not aware of any rural or commercial farmer in the country who has assessed a kobo from the fund.
â€œApart from this fund, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture also gave us information that the Federal Government had set aside another N6 billion research fund.
“He informed us that it was a competitive research fund for all research institutes in the country, but the unfortunate thing is that none of the research institutes has benefited from the fund,â€ Makunjola lamented.
According to him, it had become necessary for the government look for money as a Special Intervention Fund to establish a modern research and Bio-technology centre for agricultural activities in the country.
â€œNow that Nigerians have come to terms that there is need for Bio-technology in agriculture and with the modest achievement of NRCRI in this area, such a centre should be established in Umudike to enhance their efforts.
The importance of research is for development and when established, this centre will be the brain behind research programmes in agriculture. When this is established technology would have been transferred to the rural farmers, who areÂ end users and our crop production will increaseâ€, the lawmaker added.