Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Kano Farmers Fail to Access World Bank Funds

Kano — The Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) is a five-year agric project developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the World Bank and five state governments. The project is intended to assist participating small and medium scale commercial farmers to access improved technology, infrastructure and finance and output markets.

The project is being implemented in five states along eight value chains. The implementing states are Lagos, Enugu, Cross River, Kaduna and Kano. The value chains are dairy, palm oil, cocoa, poultry, fruit trees, maize and rice.

The objective of the project, according to the World Bank Task Team Leader, Dr Lucas Akapa who was speaking at the official launch of CADP Initiative 5-3-3-5 and the distribution of cheques to service providers in Kano, is "to strengthen agricultural production systems and facilitate access to market for targeted value chains among small and medium scale commercial farmers in the participating five states."

A chunk of about 185 million dollars is earmarked for the project with each state getting 26 million dollars. In addition to this, the World Bank is adding another 150 million dollars to expand the project.

However, three years into the project, only 19 percent of this amount is being utilized in Kano State, the remaining money is there waiting for farmers to access, the National Project Coordinator, Dr Amin Babandi who said this added that though about 10, 000 farmers are targeted to benefit from the project, less than two thousand farmers have so far benefitted.

Babandi said it is in view of this that his office conceived and came up with Initiative 5-3-3-5 to reach more farmers.

Explaining the initiative, the coordinator said the initial five is representing the five implementing states; the three representing the three value chains for each state; the other three representing the segment which comprises of production, processing and marketing; and the last five representing the five lead farmers for each value chain.

He noted that the initiative is to scale up disbursement by identifying lead practicing farmers, processors and marketers across the three value chains in the state and engaging them in the implementation of the project.

Some of the farmers that spoke to Daily Trust said though they are aware of the project, the criteria set for accessing the fund are so difficult to fulfil. Malam Ibrahim Umar Ketawa who owns a farm at Ketawa village in Gezawa Local Government Area of Kano State said he heard about the project over the radio but does not know how to go about the procedure. "I heard about the project not long ago over the radio but the process of getting the fund is not easy. I don't know how to form an association or to open an account with a bank," he said.

He observed that if Kano state government wants farmers to benefit from the project, it should assist by forming association for the farmers and also assist by opening bank account for them.

Another farmer, Malama Hadiza Musa, who owns a farm in Bunkure Local Government Area said she has benefitted from the project since its inception. "Thank God, our association has benefitted from the CADP fund and with it we have been expanding our cultivation," said the woman farmer.

She however added that farmers wanting to benefit from the project must exercise patience because, according to her, even where all the procedures are followed, they would experience delay in accessing the fund due to the process it takes before the final approval.

Under the arrangement, if their business plans scales through, the farmers would be supported with 50 or more percent of whatever farm implement they have applied for. However, the 50 percent support would not be given as direct monetary assistance to the farmers; rather it will be given to the farmers' chosen service providers who would in turn supply them with the farm implement they applied for.

They are also required to open an account with a bank because the transaction between them and the service providers and the World Bank will be through the banks.

So far under this arrangement, about 160 commodity interest groups were supported with N200 million as disclosed by the state's Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Baraka Sani, at the launch of the Initiative 5-3-3-5 and distribution of cheques to the service providers, adding, "it is pertinent at this juncture to inform this august gathering that implementation of Commercial Agriculture Development Project in Kano State is on steady progress, so far 160 Commodity Interest Groups were supported with the IDA grants of over N200 million to implement approved business plans along the three value chains," she said.

A total of 22 Commodity Interest Groups (CIGs), consisting of eight for rice, nine for maize and five for dairy farmer groups, benefited from the IDA grant of N75,757,661.00 to implement their approved business plans under the initiative.

The approved packages include tractors and implements, planter, production package such as assorted fertilizers, improved seeds, agro-chemicals, empty sacks, water pumps, sprayers and work bulls for rice and maize CIGs, while dairy CIGs would be supported with milking parlour, generating sets, milk cooling tank, heavy duty milking machines, milk collection centre, deep freezers, sales bicycles and sealing machines.

Other support areas are artificial insemination, food supplementation as well as disease control. The cheque for these items were disbursed to the service providers at the event.

Daily Trust observed that despite the large number of farmers in Kano accounting for over 70 percent of the population, and with their dire need for assistance, the money is there unutilized three years into the project. The Commercial Agriculture Development Association (CADA) chairman, Professor Abdu Salihi, explained the reasons why the money is underutilized. "The first problem is that the farmers are skeptical, they are seeing the project as the same with many other similar projects that could not deliver anything to them at the end of it and the fact that the project comes with a different mode of benefiting which requires forming of an association with a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 25 and then registering the association and opening a bank account, makes it the more difficult for the farmers to benefit," he said.

Salihi further added that unlike other projects where farmers were given grant without any demand, the CADP project is demand-driven, "the farmers are the ones to say they need certain farm implement and the project will look into the business plan of the farmers and if it is satisfied with it, the farmers will be required to pay 40 or 50 percent of the money depending on what they want and the project will then pay the remaining money. These procedures are making it difficult for the farmers to access the fund."

He noted that despite the effort made by the project to sensitize the farmers, they are still having problem with them.

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