Chief Isreal Amanze, Abia Programme Manager of Agricultural Development Program (ADP), says that 7,060 maize farmers in Abia will be beneficiaries of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers loan for improved maize production.
Speaking on Thursday during an interview with newsmen in Umuahia, Amanze said that taking into cognizance that maize production takes three months, the beneficiaries would be given a period of one year to pay back the loan.
He said that the CBN had approved the Anchor Borrowers loan for maize production, adding that farmers who applied for the facility would be contacted for proper regularisation and documentation.
Amanze said that each beneficiary would be entitled to N250,000, which would cover the cost for procuring seeds, fertiliser, slashing, pest control and every operation required for a fruitful maize production.
He said: “This is the largest figure that the state has received in Anchor Borrowers Program in a long time. I am glad to announce that over 70 per cent of the beneficiaries are women.
“We are hopeful that the farmers will make the best use of it to produce food for the people of Abia, as well as improve their livelihood and boost the economy.”
Amanze added that ADP extension workers would be monitoring the activities of the beneficiaries and offering professional advice to them for effective utilisation of the funds.
He said that the agency would be working in partnership with other agencies to assist the farmers to properly handle the operations required in maize production.
Amanze said that an off-taker arrangement had been reached between the farmers and the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAN) to ensure that there would be no glut in the venture.
“Whatever the farmers produce will be bought by the Maize Association of Nigeria. We encourage green maize marketing. So the association will be off-taking both green and dry maize.
“The price of the maize has been determined and agreed upon in a town hall meeting involving the farmers. The farmers will not be cheated,” he said.
Amanze commended the Federal Government for evolving programs aimed at boosting agriculture, adding that the agency would discharge its duty diligently to ensure that the initiative would be a success.