From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government has guaranteed 1,232,326 loans valued at N130.903 billion under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) from its inception in 1977 to May this year.
Out of the 1,232,326 beneficiaries, 973,646 of them have repaid N98.91 billion, while the loan recovery rate is about 85%.
The Board Chairman of ACGSF, Mr Stephen Okon, made the disclosure in Abuja on Thursday, at the second ACGSF national farmers award.
IF Green Industries & Investment Limited emerged winner of the National Best Farmers’ Award. Located in Lagos, IFGreen processes cassava into industrial raw materials such as foods, grade starch, etc. The firm secured N8.050 million from Access Bank PLC and was able to pay it back within the stipulated time. It won a N1 million cash prize and a plaque. The second runner-up is Almustapha Maigwandu farms limited. Located in Kebbi, it secured N1.6 million from Lapo Microfinance bank and was able to pay it back within the stipulated time. It received a N750,000 cash prize and a plaque, while Wuntin Dada Agro farms limited based in Bauchi, a second runner-up was given N500,000 and a plaque to complement for accessing N15 million from Sterling Bank and repaid within the stipulated time.
Dwelling on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the ACGSF Board Chairman disclosed that 82 loans have been guaranteed under the Scheme, valued at N22.580 million, bringing the total guaranteed loans in the FCT from the inception of the Scheme in 1977 to May 2022 to 14,258, valued N1.748 billion.
“In terms of loan recovery, 11,726 loans valued at N801.058 million were repaid under the Scheme in the FCT from the inception of the programme. These records show the level of commitment of the officers in the FCT as well as the determination of the farmers to utilize the opportunities offered by the Scheme to empower themselves and improve their lots. “We do hope that before long, participants in the agricultural value chain in the FCT will take advantage of the opportunities provided in the Amended Act,” Okon explained.
He recalled that in 2021, 31,591 farmers obtained loans worth N5.79 billion under the Scheme. In that year, 106 farmers whose due diligence and hard work earned them the enviable title of “Farmers of the Year” were selected.
“Among them were 20 women, who in spite of their gender, equally stood out. Their success story is a testament to the enduring power of courage and forthrightness. In light of these farmers’ exceptional performance, they were nominated by the various banks and finally screened and approved by the State Selection Committee as the 2021 ACGSF Best Farmers of the Year,” he added.
Also speaking, the Branch Controller of CBN, Abuja, Mr Ogbu Onyeka Michael, emphasised that the Best Farmer Award ceremony was more than a mere ritual of recognition for the best farmers, but an expression of the CBN management’s commitment to supporting hard work, innovation, and productivity in the agricultural value chain.
“To this end, the CBN challenges Nigerian farmers to explore our various agricultural interventions aimed at enhancing value addition to their output towards attaining food self-sufficiency, provision of raw materials to our manufacturing industries and also for export, which ultimately assists in diversifying and improving the foreign exchange earnings base of our economy,” he said.
ACGSF was established by Decree No. 20 of 1977 to guarantee agricultural credit facilities granted to farmers. The Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) both contribute to the Fund in the ratio of 60% and 40% respectively. The CBN, however, doubles as the Managing Agent of the Scheme and the Secretariat of the ACGSF. The Scheme encourages Deposit Money Banks and Microfinance Banks to lend to those engaged in agriculture by providing guarantees. It mitigates risks associated with banks’ lending to agriculture by guaranteeing to pay banks 75 per cent of the net amount in default in accordance with the provisions of the enabling Act. Since its inauguration in 2018, the Board has held several regular meetings as well as extraordinary meetings during which it considered several memoranda and took far-reaching decisions, all of which have positively impacted the operations of the Scheme.