Apparently not satisfy with way and manner staffers of Bank of Agriculture (BoA) and the Gombe state Ministry of Agriculture, some farmers in the state have raised alarm over what they described distorting the Nigerian government agriculture loan facility under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
Secretary of the All Lower Farmers Association (ALFA), Sani Idris, expressed the grievances of the farmers when he addressed journalists in Gombe on Friday.
He alleged that, both the bank and ministry have brought into the scheme conditions that are at variance with what the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, told them about it adding that though they were promised a total package of N300,000, “the bank (BOA) said they would give us N110, 640 in farm inputs and N75, 000.00 cash.
“Even the inputs, they made their own business because fertilizer is N5, 500.00 in the market but they force us to take it for N8, 000:00 each bag.
“Rice bag is N1,000.00 per 50kg bag, and they force us to take it for N2, 000; insecticide in the market is N1, 500, they force us to take it at N2, 500 and empty bag in the market is N80, but they also force us to take it at N150. And we don’t know the reason for the deduction of another N3, 640,” alleged the farmer.
They then drew the attention of the federal government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to intervene and help them recover the extra charges they had been made to pay to secure the loans and to secure the facility as intended by the federal government.
The farmers trouble started when the state Ministry of Agriculture demanded N10, 000.00 registration fee from every farmer, cooperative group under ALFA, N20,000.00 for consultancy, and another N20,000.00 collected by the surveyor officer.
This spokesman further alleged that, BOA made each farmer pay N3,000 to open individual account with the bank and N300 for the loan disbursement form, “an unexplained down payment” of five percent of the N250,000.00 loan, amounting to N12,500.00, as a result of which just over 3,000 of them were able to pay.
After all the deductions, each member of ALFA would be receiving N185, 640.00 as against the N300,000.00 or N250,000.00 they were expecting.
The ALFA secretary further said each farmer was charged N71,500 for land clearing, ploughing and harrowing, fertilisers application, harvesting and transportation of rice paddy.
Contacted for reaction, the BOA Manager in the state, Adamu Idris, said only the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Dahiru Biri, who heads the committee could comment.
The commissioner in turn said the loan, which was delayed for nine months, was reduced from the proposed N300,000.00 meant for dry season farming to N250,000.00 because the amount earmarked for water pumps was deducted.
He said the package was an inputs and cash loan, but that the cash aspect does not include various services for which BOA was charging N71,500.
Mr. Biri further confirmed that the credit facility, which would be repaid by the farmers through exchange of farm produce after harvest, was obtainable at a nine per cent interest rate.
According to him, the bank got the loan from the CBN at two per cent interest rate.
But analysts say there should have been enough means of communicating the new development to the farmers if at all this is in their favour instead of creating suspicion about the whole process.