Farmer seeks favourable policies

The Federal Government has been urged to implement measures that will uplift the agricultural sector to boost farmers’  productivity.
Speaking at the launch of 50 tractors  of Sonalinka assembled by Niji Tractors at Ilero, Oyo State, the Managing Director of Niji Group, Mr. Kolawole Adeniji, said the sector needs a functional  roadmap,  which will  include increasing crop yields, using efficient input, improving crop intensity and giving farmers subsidised prices.
Adeniji said the Federal Government must restructure agricultural banks and do a proper loan for agribusiness development.
He said if the government should rejig its agricultural policies and reposition the agric banks to make them farmers’ friendly.
According to him, most of the bank officials do not understand agribusiness, and as such find it diificult to attend to farmers’needs.
He said: “Agriculture is not like any other business you do and you can’t use the system in the office to solve it. The banks need to come down to the farm spend like six months and look at what the farmers suffered before they say they want to support; if not so, we can’t move forward.
Narrating how the tractors assembled by Niji came about, he said when Bank of Industry (BoI) approved the loan to First City Monumental Bank (FCBM), for the Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN) to acquire the tractors after meeting all the  conditions, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) declined to grant the loan.
He explained: “That was when we went to the Africa French Development Bank for support to guaranty what NIRSAL could not guaranty after four months of TOOAN paying for the loan they didn’t actually receive.
‘’NIRSAL declined the transaction they were supposed to support for no reasons, knowing full well that this group is well organised and it is on ground.
“What will make NIRSAL not to guaranty a good transaction that will develop agriculture in Nigeria, that we have to wait another four months to search for another country to come and guarantee? That means the money that was supposed to go into Nigerians’ pocket  actually went out. This means we are not ready for agribusiness.’’
He lamented that the poor farmers who struggled to get the money  to FCMB were paying interest on a loan that they had received or on the project it was meant for.
TOOAN National President  Elesa Bitrus Yakubu, an engineer, said the acquisition of the tractors would go down in the history of TOOAN; that it approached the bank for a loan to finance 50 units of tractors, negotiated, met the loan conditions and secured the nod for the N500 million without intervention from the government or any intermediary.
He, however, lauded BoI for considering TOOAN credit worthy. He also lauded FCMB and African Development (AFD) for their support and for agreing to manage the loan repayment and provide a guaranty for loan.
He added: “We are grateful to FCMB and AFD for trusting us to repay the loan. This gesture is a golden opportunity, considering  that the Federal Government agency (NIRSAL) that is supposed to provide the Credit Risk Guaranty (CRG) declined to consider our request, despite our appeals to grant us audience to discuss further on the CRG-ADB’s partnership.’’