The Oyo State Government, on Wednesday, flagged off the disbursement of N1 billion Agric Support Loan to farmers in the seven geopolitical zones of the state.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Olasunkanmi Olaleye, under the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery, presented the dummy cheques to the beneficiaries at the conference room of the ministry in Ibadan.
According to him, the loan facility was strictly for farmers and that it is being issued based on the merit of applications.
Olaleye, who also doubles as the Chairman of SAfER Food Security Sub-Committee, said the agricultural loan support would reduce the cost of food and also sustain the economic recovery of the state.
Qualified farmers, he stressed, will be able to access between N250,000 and N1 million based on the size of their farms, adding that the government had, under the food security component of SAfER, distributed farm inputs and maize grains to poultry farmers.
The commissioner added: “We are all aware that the governor launched the SAfER some time ago. Food security is one of the different components of the programme, which is aimed at ameliorating the hardship of the people following the removal of fuel subsidy.
“We have other components such as transport support, where the government has provided buses at reduced costs for our people.
“In the area of food security, the governor approved N1 billion as loan facility for farmers in the state, 500 million for small-holder farmers and another N500 million for youths and young agripreneurs as well as another 500 million for micro and small scale enterprises.
“As part of food security measures, the governor has approved that inputs be given to 10,000 farmers and, as I speak to you, more than 1,450 poultry farmers have benefited from free maize grains to sustain their businesses.”
He continued: “The government has given eight bags of 50kg each to about 1,400 farmers and we have not stopped. When we finish that, we will move to the fish farmers as well.
“In the next few days, more than 1,000 fish farmers will benefit and after that, we will move to the cattle breeders, piggery owners and all that.
“Today, we are commencing the distribution of agric loans through the Agric Credit Corporations to farmers who have applied for the loans. Several participating financial institutions are here and it is through them that the loans will be distributed to the farmers across the state.”
Earlier in his own remarks, the state Chairman of Agricultural Credit Corporation, Taofeek Akeugbagold, said the exercise which would be in phases and cover all areas of agriculture such as crop, fishery, livestock and piggery, among others, has been captured and well-integrated under the food security component of the SAfER programme.
The General Manager, ACCOS, Emmanuel Ogundiran, explained that the process of selecting beneficiaries was transparent, fair and non-partisan and the legitimate farmers in the state are benefiting.
While showing his gratitude, one of the beneficiaries of the loan facility, Ajayi Kayode, from Ogbomoso, said, “On behalf of other beneficiaries and myself, I say thank you to the governor. We promise that this loan will be utilised strictly for the business and we will pay back so that other people can benefit from it.”
The government, through the Agricultural Credit Corporation of the state, held the symbolic presentation of the cheques to the beneficiaries in the presence of participating Microfinance Banks.