By Abolaji Adebayo
Cassava farmers in Kwara State have accused the Governor of the State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of partiality in the disbursement of the N1billion Federal Government Agriculture Loan Scheme released to the state government.
The farmers, under the umbrella of Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria, complained that they had been excluded from benefiting from the loan unlike other farmers despite the fact that their association was included in the scheme.
While addressing the press on Friday in Ilorin, the Secretary of the association, Sunday Moses, lamented that the state government had disbursed the N1billion to other farmers including 500 small scale farmers and 40 commercial farmers leaving the cassava farmers out of the benefit.
He said his members had acquired lands to cultivate cassava in large quantities and opened bank accounts in hoping for the loans only for the their hope to be dashed by the state government.
The Secretary alleged that the agriculture loan was received by the state government from the federal government on behalf of 2000 farmers which included 500 cassava growers.
He expressed regret that none of his members benefited from the loan scheme.
Moses said that about 500 members of the association had opened accounts with the Union Bank in line with the state government’s directive.
He said that his members had been in the process of securing the loan for about one and half years now, but nothing had been forthcoming.
“Five hundred members of our association have done the necessary things and submitted necessary documents, but it is surprising when the commissioner for agriculture said there was no provision for them,” he complained.
He appealed to the state government to consider the interest of his members as they were part of the 2000 farmers that the loan scheme was meant for.
Reacting to the allegation, the Special Adviser to the state governor on Agriculture, Anu Ibiwoye, said that the state was yet to receive the N1billion loan meant for cassava farmers in the state.
He said the opening of account with the Union Bank was just one of the conditions of taking the loan, adding that the cassava growers in the state were yet to meet other conditions to access the loan.
Ibiwoye gave an assurance that the state government would disburse the fund to the farmers as soon as the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN released it to the state.