CBN says N220 billion available for Agric credit scheme
BY ANAYO OKOLI
IN an effort to encourage self-reliance and less dependence on government, Abia State has decided to encourage farmers, both rural and urban, and artisans by exposing them to easy and better ways to source for funds to grow their trades.
To this end, the Government is partnering the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to expose them on how to have access to various soft loans available in the CBN to help them modernise and improve their various trades.
To educate the farmers and artisans, the Government and CBN jointly organised an enlightenment workshop in Umuahia where various cooperative groups involved in various trades, including farmers, handicrafts and other artisans were exposed to the various finance windows available for them at the CBN and how they could obtain them in form of soft loans.
With the theme: Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and Micro Financing, the participants included smallholder farmers, cooperative societies engaged in various aspects of farming such as yam, cassava, rice, piggery, fishery, poultry as well as palm oil producers.
At the workshop which was anchored by the Abia State Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, the Commissioner, Mr Gab Igboko explained that its aim was to expose the small and medium enterprises “to the programmes of the CBN by creating awareness for the entrepreneurs on how to access funding for their businesses.”
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who was represented by his deputy, Ude Oko Chukwu, restated the importance his government places on small and medium enterprises.
Addressing the workshop, Umuahia branch Comptroller of CBN, Dr Mudashiru Olaitan explained that Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme of the bank is one of the intervention programmes of CBN to help SMEs have access to finance as a way of helping to fast-track the development of the agriculture sector.
Represented by Mrs Veronica Akpan, Olaitan disclosed that CBN has set aside N22 billion, covering 2009 to 2025, which SMEs can avail themselves of a maximum of 9 per cent interest. He further explained that the maximum limit for medium and large scale private sector entrepreneurs for commercial agriculture credit scheme programme is N2 billion while state governments are limited to N1 billion.
The fund, he also explained, is available for medium or large scale commercial farmers engaged in crops cultivation, livestock rearing, and fishery, among others. The interesting thing is that CBN programmes accommodate particularly women entrepreneurs as up to 60 per cent of them are being targeted to benefit from the N220 billion agriculture scheme programme.
Throwing more light on the importance of the CBN agriculture credit scheme, Mr. Anla Celsus, a manager in the bank, noted the challenges of SMEs to include infrastructural deficits, entrepreneurial skills and access to funds but disclosed that the SMEs funds which attract low-interest rate, encourage the participation of women and people living with disability.
Celsus also said that people engaged in agriculture value chain, services such as schools and hotels and artisans are qualified to access the fund.