By Francis Ogwo
Beneficiaries of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Agricultural Loan Scheme in Bayelsa totalling about 3,000 youths and women have on thursday commenced entrepreneurship training.
According to reports from The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the programme under the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) is targeted at Rice, Cassava and Fish farmers drawn from eight local government areas across Bayelsa.
The State’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr David Alagoa, while speaking at at the flag-off urged the beneficiaries of the scheme to explore opportunities in the various value chains beyond core farming areas.
The commissioner was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Mightyman Dikuro, and noted that the scheme focuses on boosting food production in the state by guaranteeing the loan for the beneficiaries.
He was of the view that the scheme was designed to discourage direct disbursement of cash to beneficiaries as the farming input component of the loan would be supplied to the farmers through their cluster groups.
Also speaking to the beneficiaries during the training, Head of Development Finance at the CBN in Yenagoa, Mr. Stanley Oruseigha, advised the beneficiaries to avoid diverting the cash component of the loan.
He explained that given the projected yield from rice cultivation a hectare of land would yield more than 35 bags of processed 50 kg bags, which could fetch in excess of N700,000 which is far greater than the total loan sum for each beneficiary.
Recall that in November last year, Governor Douye obtained the approval of the Bayelsa House of Assembly to borrow N17 billion from various sources. N10 billion of the N17 billion from the CBN would be dedicated to Agriculture.
Many indigenes of the state according to reports had shown interest while the lucky ones got the loans which many believe would boost entrepreneurship in the state especially in agriculture.