By Emma Una
CALABAR—RICE farmers in Cross River State have requested for a rollover of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor Borrowers Rice Scheme, in the state from the 2017 to 2018 rice-planting season occasioned by the numerous problems affecting the scheme.
The call, according to the farmers follows the inability of the committee set up by the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade and headed by his Special Adviser on Revenue, Mr Godwin Akwaji to efficiently distribute the inputs to majority of the 5,746 farmers who are participating in the scheme.
The farmers during an interaction with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Pastor Justin Ugbe, who went round the three senatorial zones of the state, weekend to meet with the participants on the scheme was told that the scheme did not meet the expected target on rice production and loan repayment because of glaring lapses.
Mr David Esese, who spoke on behalf of farmers in the Southern senatorial district told Ugbe that apart from the farmers in Bakassi, who were able to access the financial component of the loan, others in the remaining six local government areas in the Southern part of the state were not given the agreed money to facilitate the planting of their rice farms.
“Majority of us got the rice input but the fertilizers were distributed haphazardly with some getting the Urea and others NPK. Some got the chemicals while others did not get and nobody was given the financial component of the loan apart from Bakassi farmers,” said Esese
He said farmers visited the Bank of Agriculture at Obubra several times to get the financial component of the loan but were not given which frustrated their efforts to cultivate the hectres of swamp already earmarked for their farms.
In Ogoja, the representative of the farmers Osborn Kanja, l said that the rice distributed to them as inputs did not germinate owing to the long period the rice was stored before cultivation.
“We were given the rice in September, 2016 and by that time, the rice season had passed and so we kept the rice for the 2017 rice planting season but by the time we planted the rice, it refused to germinate owing to heat that affected it because of the long storage period.”
Kanjal said over 90 percent of the farmers in the Northern senatorial district of the state could not access the financial component of the loan as the Bank of Agriculture in Ogoja, which they was held up in the headquarters in Kaduna.
“We agreed in a meeting with the Commissioner for Agriculture, Professor Eneji that the farmers should get the sum of N230,000 per hectre but those who were lucky to access the money got only N90,000 per hectre and the committee claimed that N120,000 was used for the inputs which was way too high. Even at that, majority of us did not get the money, so from which source do we pay back the loan?”