Uche Usim, Abuja
Members of the Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN) have extolled President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele for their concerted efforts to assist them expand their businesses and ultimately end palm oil importation. The apex bank began disbursing a N30 billion intervention loan late last year to oil palm farmers in a strategic move to conserve the huge foreign exchange spent on importing it. The newly-elected President of the association, Mr. Joe Onyiuke, said that empowering smallholder farmers under the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) was a strategic way to end poverty, guarantee food security and grow foreign exchange.
According to him, the current administration has so far, demonstrated its seriousness and preparedness to place agriculture on a higher pedestal towards revamping the economy. He said: “Other associations have been accessing the CBN interventions and they’ve been doing very well. If you look at cotton, cotton has transformed this country again: our uniform men are now buying cotton grown from this country. This was done by both the CBN governor and the Buhari-administration.”
The new OPGAN leadership came on board over the weekend following the dissolution of the erstwhile exco by its trustees over a plethora of allegations, especially illegally overstaying its tenure.
Onyiuke added that the inability of the previous leadership to create a solid structure and properly organise the association had weakened and insulated the members from getting a slice of the oil palm development funds already unveiled by the apex bank. He noted that though the CBN Governor had meetings with oil palm stakeholders recently, OPGAN, as an association, failed to leverage on the collaboration to collectively access the funds to boost their businesses.