Abuja — The National Present, Agricultural Produce Sellers (Dealers) Association of Nigeria (APSAN), Mr. Aloys Akortsaha, has said that 20,000 members of the association have so far benefited from the N503.3 billion disbursed under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention programme for farmers in the country.
He said a total of 881, 000 Nigerians had also accessed the fund, which is currently being administered by the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB).
Akortsaha, during a media briefing on CBN-NIRSAL MFB intervention to boost agriculture, said encouraged farmers especially agro-business dealers to seize the opportunity provided by the federal government and make judicious use of the funds.
He said when the intervention is properly utilised, the CBN and NMFB would be encouraged to do more to enhance food production and create more jobs.
According to him, "We are of the belief that empowering farmers and agri-preneurs is tantamount to strategically diversifying the economy into agriculture since the agricultural policy roadmap remains a major option to diversifying the nation's economy."
The association also expressed its vote of confidence on NMFB, which has about 115 branches spread across the country.
It further expressed support for the various agricultural intervention schemes and business support programmes by the apex bank and urged business and households to take advantage of the offer.
Specifically, the APSAN president said the CBN's Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), AGSMEIS, Anchor Borrowers' Programme among others have had positive impact on wellbeing of farmers and the economy in general.
He said, "Posterity will judge us harsher if we deliberately refuse to acknowledge or appreciate worthy efforts but quick to condemn or rush to criticise. We must not only be seen or heard criticising but also be heard lending our support to good cause.
"The fact remains that this is the first time a programme is impacting the lives of ordinary Nigerians especially the grassroots without any interference from the powers that be. it is worthy of commendation and recommendation."
The CBN had recently announced that it has disbursed N791 billion to over three million farmers across the 36 states, under its Anchor Borrowers' Programme (ABP).
The Director, Development Finance Department of the bank, Mr Yusuf Yila, stated this in Abuja, during an interaction with newsmen.
Yila said the apex bank had reduced interest rate on the loan from nine per cent to five per cent, to encourage more farmers to have access to the credit.