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Association passes vote of no confidence on banks, urges FG to channel agric loans through credible organisations

By Franca Ofili on 22/10/2017

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•NANT President Ken Ukaoha
•NANT President Ken Ukaoha

The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANT) has advised the Federal Government to channel agricultural loans for small scale farmers through competent and credible organisations rather than commercial banks.

Mr Ken Ukaoha, President of the association, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.

Ukaoha said that the platform would enable members to access loans easily to improve on their farming businesses.

According to him, the commercial banks make it things difficult for the loans to get to the farmers because of documentation problems.

“Access to finance is a critical matter in the issue of small scale farmers in this country, the banks of industry and agriculture have stepped in but there are still documentation problems hindering them from getting the funds.

“Government needs to look for competent farmers and trade organisations that it can entrust to distribute the loans to their members.

“The government will hold the organisations accountable for the refund of the loans, rather than the commercial banks that are not ready to give out the funds because the banks prefer to make use of the funds for round tripping,” Ukaoha said.

He also advised that government should provide enough technologies to boost food production in the country.

Ukaoha said farming had moved from the ancient way to the use of modern technology, adding that the methods would increase production and feed the world.

“I am happy with what the present administration did with rice farming in the country, before now  Nigeria produces 2.7 million metric tons per annum and has moved to 3.7 million metric tons per.

“Today the country is making effort to make it to 5.75 metric tons; this means there is hope for this nation and it has lead to the reduction of importation of foreign rice.

“This great effort shows that more funds will be made available to other sectors to drive,” he said.

Ukaoha urged the government to revisit the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) strategy, to ensure that the agricultural and industrial sectors were all linked.

The Plan aims at economic recovery in the short-term and structural reforms aimed at diversifying the economy to set it on a path toward sustained and inclusive growth over the medium to long-term.

“We need the government to ensure that there is a linkage between Agric, Trade and Industrial policies so that they can cohabit because one cannot do without the other.

“Agric provides raw materials, pushes it to industry and industry processes it and then brings it out to trade while trade sends it out to final consumers,” he said.

The association, on October 19, went to Utako and Wuse markets to educate traders, especially the youth on the importance of farming.

They were advised to embrace farming to liberate them from poverty.

Ukaoha said that farming was not a profession for the old and poor, but a lucrative venture with lots of opportunities.

He advised youths to take up farming rather than wasting the better part of their lives looking for white collar jobs that might not come.

According to him, government needs to attract youths into agriculture, to reduce unemployment and create wealth.

The association on the same day, submitted a document titled “The Nigerian Farmers Petition” to Minister of Agriculture to mark the World Food Day.

In the document, the association advocated that 60 per cent of   agriculture investment in budgets be dedicated to small scale framers to help tackle food security in the country.

The petition was articulated to ensure that agricultural policies would effectively target small-scale farmers.

Among other things, the association called for the revitalisation of the Agric Extension Service to reduce the wide extension-farmer ratio and facilitate access to extension agents’ contact by farmers.

It also advised that the recent successes achieved in the Growth Enhancement Scheme should be improved upon to make sure that more farmers were registered and inputs made available to them.

The association called on government to ensure reduction of the importation of foreign foods and create functional One-Stop Input Centres.

The theme of the 2017 World Food Day was “Change the future of Migration – Invest in food security and rural development”. (NAN)

Source News Express

Posted 22/10/2017 9:14:47 PM

 

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