…but agency claims they’re yet to meet requirements
…as state receives improved seedlings from Cross River’s factory
Several dozens of rice farmers in Abia State under the aegis of Rice Famers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) are protesting the refusal (for so it seems) of Nigeria Incentive Risk-based Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to release funds meant for the state’s share of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers scheme for rice production in the state.
They are calling on the Federal Government, through the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), to intervene and order NIRSAL to release the fund.
Already, the state government recently received delivery of improved rice seedlings from neighbouring Cross River State from its rice seedling factory in Calabar. Recall that recently, the Federal Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the state and proceeded to pay N3 billion for the state to supply rice seedlings to all states in southern Nigeria willing to invest in rice production.
The Abia rice farmers operate under various cooperative societies. They complained about their predicament in Umuahia while speaking to some journalists.
Emmanuel Oraekwute, the leader who spoke on behalf of the rice farmers for the CBN Anchor Borrowers programme in the state, said that rice farmers were yet to access the fund which they learnt had been released since June 2018 by the apex bank through NIRSAL meant for farmers in the state.
“We learnt that this fund had been released by the CBN since June 2018 to NIRSAL for disbursement to farmers for the planting season, but up till date no farmer has received any money from NIRSAL,” Oraekwute lamented.
James Agbai, a farmer from Igbere community and Philip Okoro another farmer from Idima Abam said they were deeply worried over the non-release of the CBN Anchor borrower’s fund by NIRSAL to farmers in the state since 2018 when the money was allegedly paid into NIRSAL account.
They are asking the Federal Government to investigate NIRSAL’s alleged refusal to make the fund available to the farmers.
But Mohammed Yerima, a director in NIRSAL’s Abuja headquarters told our correspondent on the phone that the alleged non-release of the Abia rice farmers’ fund by their agency was untrue.
Rather, he said that the money had long been paid into the farmers’ accounts.
Prodded further, Yerima said most of the farmers could not access the fund because they were yet to meet the requirements to receive the fund.