• Monday, July 22, 2024
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A’Ibom disburses N1.2Bln interest free loan to cassava farmers

Akwa Ibom State Government has disbursed more than N1.2 billion as interest free loans to cassava farmers in the last two years, as part of efforts to boost sufficiency.

Glory Edet, commissioner for agriculture who made this known while speaking in Uyo, the state capital said the loan scheme and the

subsidised sales of Garri to the people were a deliberate move to reduce the rising cost of food prices in the state.

She pointed out that the initiative was not limited to cassava production and disclosed that 1,000 each of maize and vegetable farmers also benefitted from interest free loans

According to her, the state government also distributed 700,000 cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers and boosted livestock farmers with improved breeds of goats and other animals.

Read also: How Wheat Development Programme is increasing farmers’ yield

She explained that the present utilization of the cassava mills is dependent on the quantity of cassava from its demonstration farms across the state, but said that government has in addition acted as off checkers by buying from small holder cassava farmers to increase processing capacity and empower the farmers to sustain production.

She said the state government would sustain the sale of more than 150 bags of 120kg bags of garri per day at a reduced price in different parts of the state to ameliorate the hardship on residents and force the stabilization of the price of the commodity in the open market

“In the area of cultivation, we have been encouraging farmers with Interest Free Loans. Last year we gave over 2,000 farmers N250, 000 for each of the over 5,000 hectares they cultivated. We also gave them free improved varieties of cassava stem and this has boosted production in the state.

“To break the monopoly of market unions we have harvested the cassava we planted in our demonstration farms. We have also processed them and selling them at three cups for N100 when it was a cup for N100 in the open market and we ensured we take them to major markets around the state in addition to selling at the State Secretariat three times a week.” She explained.

She explained that the broader initiative has been on increasing the scope of the state government’s Green House farming scheme with increased emphasis on the training and empowerment of individual holder farmers, especially youths and women with funds, equipments, agro chemicals, fertilizer and improved varieties of seeds and stems.

She said has also expanded its swampy rice production capacity to include individual holder farms in Okobo, Uruan, Ibiono Ibom and Nsit Ubium LGAs in addition to existing plantations at Ini Local Council.

She said that the efforts were a holistic strategy to ensure that the state government’s target of local production of at least 80% of food consumed in the state by 2023 is achieved.

The state government had set up cassava processing mills, but they have remained largely underutilised

It was gathered that the mills have capacity to produce more than 350 bags a week but their current weekly production has not been more than 50 bags even as the commodity s are not readily available for consumers to purchase at the state Secretariat.