From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Hilary Chidi Azubuike, a poultry owner in Imo State, emerged on Thursday as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) best farmer in the state for the year 2020.
Another poultry farmer, Ogaranya Godson Onyekachi, clinched the second position.
Speaking at the award ceremony held at the Owerri branch of the Central Bank, Branch Controller Chuks Okeke said that the CBN has instituted the best farmers award as a way to encourage farmers in the country.
The Branch Controller, who was represented at the event by Chukwu Ndukwe, disclosed that since the Board of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) was launched in 1978, the CBN has been rewarding hard-working farmers across Nigeria.
‘We are here today to recognise and reward the best farmer in the state, which is one of the ways through which the CBN encourages farmers since this scheme was instituted in 1978,’ he stated.
‘This award ought to have held since last year but was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Today, the two farmers who have both emerged as the first and second are both poultry farmers which shows that others have to work harder. The CBN congratulate them for their feat.’
The Head of the Bank’s Owerri Development Finance Office, Micheal Ananambier, said that the farmers are supposed to obtain loans from commercial banks, with the CBN paying a 40 per cent rebate of the prevailing market rate.
According to him, ‘under this scheme, the CBN only pays 40 per cent rebate of the prevailing market rate for the farmers. The CBN does not give the farmers the loans but it pays a rebate on the interest that they have paid to the banks. Like the two winners, today were backed by LAPO Micro Finance Bank in the state.’
He added that ‘under this scheme, the farmers can obtain loans without collateral if it is below N50,000 and but will need to provide a guarantor if the loan is N1 million. We pay the rebate on the interest paid by the farmers to enable them to have more funds. Every year we select the best farmers in the state, but today the overall best farmers are from the LAPO Micro Finance Bank.’
Poultry owner Azubuike commended the CBN for declaring him the overall best farmer in the state. He also thanked the LAPO Micro Finance Bank for providing him with the finance support.
Ogaranya Godson Onyekachi, the runner-up who went home with a cash price of N75,000, thanked both the CBN and the LAPO Micro Finance Bank for the scheme which has made the award possible for the award.