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The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide, yesterday called on the people of the Niger Delta to take advantage of the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) for small scale farmers in Nigeria or lose out on its many benefits.

The youths regretted that the objectives of the programme were little known in the region, noting that most eligible people of Ijaw descent had not been able to benefit from the N43.92 billion so far released for the scheme.

Daniel Dasimaka, the IYC’s national Spokesman, in a statement in Yenagoa, said the region was being left behind in terms of keying into the programme inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 for small holders in the agricultural sector in the country.

President Buhari had while reeling out his scorecard in October described the programme as a huge success, mentioning some states that were benefitting hugely from it.

“N43.92 billion (has been) released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions, 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation benefitting, 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivating eight commodities, namely rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soya-beans, poultry, cassava and groundnuts, in addition to fish farming” he had said.

The IYC urged all Ijaw people interested in the programme to intimate themselves with the CBN’s ‘Anchor Borrowers’ Programme Guideline’ which is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.

“The programme thrust of the ABP is the provision of farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to small holder farmers to boost production of these commodities, stabilise inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.

“At harvest, the SHF supplies his/her produce to the Agro-processor (Anchor) who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account,” the youth body explained.

IYC added: “Recently, as part of our consultation to improve the wellbeing of Ijaw people, especially the youths, we visited the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and he also mentioned the benefits of this programme.

“But are Ijaw youths aware of the existence of this programme? How many youths of Ijaw descent are aware? How many Ijaw youths have benefitted from the N43.92 billion released through the CBN? If we have not, why?”

The group argued that the key to the region’s development “lies in our taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to us”, adding that while we struggle for Resource Control and self-determination to manage our God -given resources, we should also take full advantage of the many opportunities in the non-oil sectors of the economy.

“While we are here talking about crude oil which has the full attention of Nigerians, some people are making cool tax-free billions on the back of government incentives,” Dasimaka noted.

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