Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
A total of 2,200 rice farmers selected from the 11 political wards of Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have been given loan of N25,000 each totalling N55 million for the 2019 farming season.
They were also given agricultural inputs which include 2,000 bags of NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer, another 2,000 bags of urea fertilizer, and 950 cartons of herbicide; all at subsidized rates.
These items and the loan facility which were distributed to the beneficiaries by the Local Government Chairman, Dr Eni Uduma Chima, at the council’s headquarters in Nguzu-Edda, Daily Sun gathered, were sponsored by the state government under its agricultural development policy.
The council boss, while addressing the beneficiaries, disclosed that the farmers would also receive high yielding, improved rice seedlings to help them increase their productivity.
He explained that each profiled farmer was entitled to a loan of N25,000 from which the beneficiaries might decide to buy any of the agricultural inputs at a subsidized price from the local government authority.
He made it clear that the beneficiaries were expected to pay back the loans with 10 per cent interest after one year or return some quantities of rice equivalent to the interest sum to the government.
Chima said: “We have 2,000 bags of NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer, another 2,000 bags of urea fertilizer, and 950 cartons of herbicides. We even have spraying tanks which we have procured for distribution.
“Each of the profiled farmers is entitled to N25,000 from which, voluntarily, he may decide to buy any of these things from us. If you are buying NPK from us, instead of the rate of N5,500; government will give you at the rate of N4,500.
“The governor said that we should reduce the price and that is what we have done.
“If you are buying urea, instead of buying it N7,000 you will get it at N6,000. It is the same thing for the selective and non-selective herbicide. And we want to use this opportunity to tell us that it is not free.
“We expect you to use it for the programme it is designed for; for cultivation of rice and when you have harvested by dry season, we expect you to sell and pay back; either in cash or in rice and then, you pay 10% interest”.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to Daily Sun expressed happiness over the package saying that it would go a long way in boosting their productivity.
They commended the council Chairman and Governor David Umahi, for their kind gestures even as they promised to make judicious use of the facility.
One of them was Mr Nkama Ude who hails from Oso-Edda community. For him, the assistance from the government, not only came at the right time, but would definitely manifest in their output during harvest.
Ude said: “I so much like what the Governor has done. He has helped us very well and the entire people of Oso-Edda which is the base of agriculture in Afikpo South Local Government Area, more especially, rice farming, we are very happy.
“The rate the government gave us is very low compared to what they sell in the market. This fertilizer called 4600 urea is sold at the rate of N8,000 in the market but government reduced it to N6,000, which is very nice.
“This one called NPK 20:10:10 is sold at the rate of N5,500 in the market but the government is selling to us at the rate of N4,500. These chemicals which is sold at the cost of N3,900 in the market, now the rate has been reduced to N3,200.
“We are promising him that in this year’s harvest; we are going to produce large quantity of rice. In fact, we are appealing to him to bring de-stoning machine to the entire Oso-Edda people because this time around, we are going to supply in tons.”