• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

AFAN warns government on fake farmers cornering agric funds

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The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Enugu State chapter, has warned that a lot of people who play along the corridors of power collecting funds meant for farmers are not the real farmers the government is targeting to improve in its transformation agenda.

Alfred Eneh, chairman, AFAN, Enugu State chapter, in an interview with BusinessDay appealed to federal and state governments to pay more attention to the demands of real farmers to ensure the success and sustainability of the government’s transformation programme in the agricultural sector. In reaction to the money put in some banks as revolving loans to assist small and medium scale entrepreneurs, including farmers, by the federal, state and local governments, he said the banks had put some stringent demands on the poor farmers, making it impossible for them to get such loans.

According to Eneh, “the Federal Government is doing everything possible to appease the farmers but down the line the farmers are finding things very difficult with some of the banks. Like the Bank of Industry, the peasant farmers can not meet up with the conditions. First, they say the farmers should have a collateral such as a building, which you know is highly impossible. “The peasant farmer has no building or something like that as collateral,” he said.

He further stated that they were advised to form co-operatives, but upon that the co-operatives were also given very hard conditions, asking them to provide assets of not less that N80 million, noting  “you know it is highly impossible, so the Federal Government should look into the way they should help the peasant farmers.”

He, however, commended the idea of co-operative society but was of the opinion that it should be monitored by members of AFAN to ensure that the loan was used for what it was meant for and repaid as at when do.

He emphasised on the important of the development of the agricultural sector as a check to unemployment, appealing to states to guarantee farmers to ensure that the loans were given to them as AFAN had a better arrangement as a body to manage the funds and pay them back.

To the chairman, “when the money is given to them, I am not talking about the political farmers, I   am talking about the farmers who will make good use of the money in their farms to produce whatever they are giving the money for, then repay as at when due. I am not talking about somebody who will say he is a farmer but he has no farm.

“I am talking about the actual farmers like the ones we guarantee from AFAN, we arranged them from wards, we have to go and inspect their farms, make sure it belongs to the person and ensure that money given to the person is channelled to the farm so that during harvest season the products will be sold to pay back the loan.”

The chairman, who says he has above 10,000 registered farmers in Enugu operating in different sector of agriculture, maintained that if the Federal Government’s support to real farmers were made available to them the issue of food security would never arise because the nation would have enough to export and make money more than oil.

The farmers are into poultry, piggery, snailing, aqua-culture, arable crops, among others, he said, but complained that finance had been the major clog on the wheels of improving them, advising Nigerians to start any type of agriculture at a small scale to help reduce unemployment and hunger in the society.

Regis Anukwuoji