17,000 Farmers Empowered Through Intervention Loans to Boost Agric in Osun

No fewer than 17,000 farmers at least, have benefitted from the loans scheme of the Osun Quick Impact Intervention Programme (QUIIP) as part of the comprehensive program of the Rauf Aregbesola administration to boost agriculture.

A set of 77 farmers’ cooperative groups benefited under the QUIIP I while another set of 419 farmers’ cooperative groups benefited from both QUIIP II programmes. Some of the cooperative groups have as much as over 200 as members.

While the sum of N164, 882. 920 million was disbursed to farmers under QUIIP I programme, N686, 786, 612 million was distributed under the QUIIP II, coming to a total of N851, 669, 532 million.

A statement by the Bureau of Communication and Strategy signed by its Director, Semiu Okanlawon, quoted the Coordinator of QUIIP, Mr. Dele Ogundipe as giving the breakdown Tuesday evening when farmers under the QUIIP program gathered at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park Osogbo to express appreciation to the government for its massive support for food production and general agric business in the state.

This was just as other heads of agencies told the huge gathering the extensive support program of the Aregbesola administration since inception.

 The Osun State Agricultural Development Corporation (OSSADEC) gave out N250million loan to farmers in 2010 while in 2012, it gave out a sum of N500million.

Also as part of the massive provision of infrastructure to aid farming, the Rural Accessibility Mobility Programme (RAMP), constructed for the state 662km rural roads for easy access to farm settlements.

 In addition, out of 300km World Bank-Assisted programmes, 225km roads had been completed through N12bn World Bank assisted loan where Osun paid a counterpart fund of N2bn.

These breakdown was made by the Project Manager of the RAMP, Engr Lere Oriolowo.

However, Aregbesola called on all farmers who had benefitted from the agriculture loans to repay the initial capital so that the money could circulate among other farmers in the state.

The governor frowned at a situation where a paltry sum of N364, 693. 21 has only been repaid out of N1. 421bn government lent the farmers.

On micro-credit scheme, the Governor stated that Government also made soft loan available for the development of small and medium scale businesses in the state.

 He held that the loan was targeted at micro-enterprises such as traders, artisans, market men and women and entrepreneurs.

The General Manager of the Osun Micro-Credit Loans Agency, Dayo Babaranti, had earlier announced that almost 25,000 beneficiaries had benefitted from the facilities from the agency.

According to the Governor, the state borrowed N2bn from the CBN and deposited it with the Osun State micro finance Bank for the people to assess at free interest.

Aregbesola said, government undertook to pay the interest rate pegged at 9 percent by the CBN, which totalled N186 million.

He averred that the interest people were supposed to pay on the principal borrowing was thus taken up by the government so as to make it easy for the borrowers.

Aregbesola said that against the backdrop of the current economic crisis, the whole country is neck-deep in crisis which only massive agriculture can remedy.

The governor therefore made passionate appeal to farmers across the state to stand up and redouble their efforts towards massive engagements in different forms of agricultural practices from poultry to cash and food crops.

Governor Aregbesola noted that the only panacea to the current economic imbroglio is for every serious minded government to rise to the occasion and look for alternative means by exploring the abundant potential in agriculture.

Aregbesola said: “At this critical juncture and judging from the economic crisis of the present, our state has no alternative than to diversify and stop relying on what comes from Abuja, if we must survive.

“Therefore, our dream is to turn the state into a modern, industrial and commercial agricultural state.

“The situation at present requires that we do everything humanly possible to awaken the huge potential of our agricultural sector.

“Failure to do this leaves us with only two alternatives. It is either we float or sink, but in our state, we shall float because our administration is determined to leave no stone unturned at ensuring general wellbeing of its citizenry in making the state food basket of the nation.”