Various smallholder farmers in Oyo State have received different categories of Kenaf, yam and cocoa seedlings as part of the Federal Government’s coronavirus pandemic palliative.

Just as the Anambra State chairman of the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Mr Simeon Nwafor, has assured that 535 farmers in the state will receive inputs worth over N89 million for 2020 wet farming season from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Program (ABP).

The distribution in Ibadan at the Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development office, Moore Plantation, Ibadan, was supervised by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Mustapha Baba Shehuri, accompanied by Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde.

Shehuri said the distribution of farm inputs was to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on smallholders’ livelihood and avert food scarcity in Nigeria by 2021.

Shehuri said the ministry’s intervention was part of the Federal Government’s plan to sustain agricultural production, increase the resilience of farmers and enhance the national food systems.

Items handed over to the state government included 19,672 kilograms of Kenaf foundation seeds, 12 metric tonnes of foundation seeds for yam farmers, 18,000 kilogrammes of organic insecticides for maize farmers and part of 66,000 cocoa seedlings being distributed to farmers nationwide.

Shehuri, however, pointed out that while seeds were being given to farmers free of charge, other inputs were being distributed at 75 per cent subsidy.

Governor Seyi Makinde lauded the decision of the Federal Government to support the state farmers, especially when they grappled with the effects of COVID-19 on their means livelihood.

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Meanwhile, Nwafor who gave the assurance in Onitsha, Anambra State, during the inauguration of inputs distribution by the CBN-ABP, appealed to the government to ensure early release of inputs to the state.

He commended President Mohammadu Buhari and national president of MAAN, Alhaji Abubakar Funtua, for supporting farmers in the state, rejoicing that the figure of beneficiaries has increased since 2019.

Head, Development Finance Office, CBN, Awka branch, Mrs Bridget Okparaeze, expressed satisfaction that more farmers were taking advantage of the opportunities in the agricultural value chain.

As part of the government’s intents, Makinde said the state was determined to revamp the Eruwa and Akufo farm settlements, finance the construction of silo in Awe and construct several rural roads, especially those that would enhance agriculture.

He asked the Federal Government to concede the Ikere Gorge Dam to the state for optimal utilisation of the facility for the development of agribusiness.

Makinde also demanded that the state be included in the Federal Government’s agricultural projects in mechanization and fixing of federal roads that link agricultural communities with markets.

Okparaeze, however, explained that the programme was not a grant but a loan facility granted to farmers in forms of farm inputs and cash components.

Source: The Guardian

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