Abuja — The Federal Government said on Wednesday in Abuja that it had set aside N3 billion for mechanised farming, to enable farmers to access modern implements.
Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this at the signing of an agreement between the Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association.
Adesina said the money would enable farmers to access loan through the bank for mechanised farming.
He said government had received an order to export 3 million tonnes of cassava grit and dry chip to China.
"The last order we sent to the Chinese, we got a call that our cassava grit and chip was the best among those imported to China last year.
"So, in terms of quality, it beats other ones that are produced in other countries."
He said the Federal Government had also concluded plans to set up six cassava grit and chip processing centres across the country.
He commended the association for being forthright in its dealings on matters relating to agriculture.
Dr Mohammed Santuraki, Managing Director of the bank, said the agreement was a result of a lengthy dialogue that had been going on between the bank and the association.
Represented by Mr Waziri Ahmadu, Executive Director, Wholesale Finance of the bank, Santuraki said both parties had agreed on modalities for the association to access the loan through mutual partnership.
"The bank has worked out appropriate loan processing procedures that will ensure smooth and timely packaging of loans, so long as applicants meet the bank's requirement."
He noted that the interest rate pegged at 12 per cent would be at the discretion of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending.
He assured that the bank was convinced of its capacity to meet the expectations of its partners because of the strength and spread inherent in its operations.
He said the bank had been in partnership with the association since 2008 when it set aside N200 million for disbursement to its members to cultivate cassava.
Santuraki added that not long after that, the Flour Millers Association of Nigeria established the Cassava Endowment Fund and domiciled it with the bank.
"It was from this fund that a total of N121.8 million was disbursed to members of the association.
"Unfortunately the performance of the two loans has been less than satisfactory.
"We were, however, encouraged to give the association another chance not only because it promised to turn a new leaf, but because the executive endorsed to recover all liabilities soon to be booked."
He added that the association made an agreement to recover all old loans without an exception.
Mr Segun Adewumi, President of the association, said it would cultivate one million hectares of cassava in the 2013 planting season.
He assured the bank that members of the association had resolved to re-pay the loan when due. (NAN)