CBN’s anchor borrowers’ rice scheme a failure in Cross River, farmers insist
Farmers in Cross River State have described the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) Anchor Borrowers Rice Scheme as a colossal failure.They argued that it was a failure, as most of the farmers in the state could not access the funds to enable them to acquire more lands, accusing government of politicising the scheme.
Even the inputs like rice and fertilizers that were distributed did not go round and since the farmers did not get cash to procure more land, the rice could not be planted and the fertiliser not optimally used.According to them, the Ultra Modern Rice Mill in Ogoja that was to be ready in December and roll out the first batch of rice in December 2017 as promised by the state governor, Ben Ayade, is still under construction. Added to this is the frustration of farmers who are still managing with their local mills in Bansara and Ogoja.
However, managers at the Rice Mill site who were hostile to journalists at the site said the mill would now be ready in April 2018.Faced with various challenges, rice farmers during a fact-finding tour of the rice mill and farms by journalists in the state recently, called for a rollover of the scheme from 2017 to 2018, to allow the farmers access the funds.
The Chairman of Ikurachom Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society, Lawrence Adom, stated in Ogoja that the programme started since February, but they were still undergoing one form of stress or the other after which some of them got half of their inputs. “They gave us half of the rice and some of the fertilizers. They did not give us money at all, instead they are asking us to come and pay additional money for them to give us money. We are over 21 in my Cooperative.
“In Ndok, we have up to seven cooperatives while in Ishibori we have more and in all we have 500 persons and we do go to that office every day. We did not receive any money apart from the inputs which we did not even collect it all,” he said.Another rice farmer in the Southern Senatorial District, David Esese, during an interaction with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Justin Ugbe, who went round the three senatorial zones of the state to meet with the participants of the scheme, said the scheme did not meet the expected target on rice production and loan repayments by the farmers because of the lapses.
Esese said apart from the farmers in Bakassi who were able to access the financial component of the loan, others in the remaining six local councils in the southern part of the state were not given the agreed amount to facilitate the planting of rice.
“Majority of us got the rice input but the fertilizers were distributed haphazardly with some getting the Urea and others NPK. Some got the chemicals, while others did not get and nobody was given the financial component of the loan apart from the Bakassi farmers,” he stated.
Representative of the farmers in Obubra and Ogoja, Osborn Kanjal, said the farmers visited the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) several times to get the loan but they were not given, which frustrated their efforts to cultivate the hectares of swampland earmarked for their farms.
Governor Ayade had disclosed that the ultra-modern rice mill currently under construction in Ogoja Local Council would roll out its first wholly bagged rice by the end of this month.
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