The Federal Government in collaboration with the International Finance for Agricultural Development/Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises in Niger Delta Project has partnered a microfinance bank to give single digit interest rate loans to farmers in Ondo State.
Speaking, the state Coordinator of the FG/IFAD/Life-ND Project, Olawale Ademola, said the partnership was part of the efforts to assist the farmers who were affected by the flood in the state in 2022, in a bid to promote agriculture and boost food supply in the country.
Ademola, who spoke on Monday, at a sensitisation programme held in Akure, stated that the beneficiaries were farmers who were affected by flood in 2022.
Ademola, who was represented by the Rural Institutions Gender and Youth Officer of IFAD/ND-Life Project in the state, Bolanle Ajibade, noted that it was the second stage of support being given to the flood victims beneficiaries.
He said, “In December 2022, we gave them (farmers) support in kind. We gave them the inputs that they would need to start up again and that could address the loss they incurred as a result of the flood.
“Also we are giving them this financial support in the form of a loan from the Lapo Microfinance Bank. These beneficiaries have been empowered already by the project and they’re practising farmers in various enterprises such as cassava, poultry, fishery and cocoa among others.
“In Life-ND, the major objective was food security, which is to ensure food surplus in the Niger Delta state and creation of employment through agricultural value chain and income generation.
“The 2022 flood really affected most of our beneficiaries especially those that are into cassava and fishery. Majority of them had their farms flooded away resulting to heavy loss.
“We had to take it upon ourselves to train them so that they will not be victims of such occurrence again. We trained them on how to fortify the embankment of their ponds so that flood will not affect them to be frustrated out of farming. We do build their capacity beyond the money we are giving them through various workshops,” he stated.
The state coordinator urged the participants to use the loan for the purpose for which it was given .
In his remarks, the Environment and Climate Change Specialist in Life-ND Project in the state, Akin Oluwalade, explained that the loan access would enable the beneficiaries to expand their agric businesses for better income generation which would transform their standard of living.
Oluwalade added that the loan would be given to each agric enterprise depending on its scope and interest. He described 2022 flooding as very terrible and unfortunate, saying that the project had trained its beneficiaries on how to mitigate against flooding occurrence.
“I will urge the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the opportunity because we want to make sure that they are successful in their respective agricultural enterprises so that they can stand on their own.
“As a result, they will be employers of labour. And if they can make judicious use of the money, Lapo Bank is ready to give more to them at a very low interest rate and the bank is giving soft landing for them to produce with the loan.
With this support, I know they will be able to go beyond average farmers, perform optimally and be sustainable,” he stated.