The Agricultural Commodity Sellers Association of Nigeria (APSAN) lamented the cumbersome application process for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Scheme (AGSMEIS), noting that Entrepreneurial Development Institutions (EDIs) take advantage of the situation to extort money from the applicant.
In a conversation with THISDAY, APSAN National President Aloy Akortsaha praised the program but said the purpose for which the program was introduced is being defeated not through EDIs.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s microfinance bank Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) had issued a statement rejecting the request and promised to grant approvals for loan applications.
Akortsaha said: “AGSMEIS was purposely introduced by the Federal Government to provide long-term loans of 8 years, but NIRSAL succeeded in empowering or creating an avenue for EDI because before accessing these funds, you have to go through the EDIs who would form and prepare a business plan for you for around N25,000, but after paying this fee, applicants still cannot access the loans, only a fragment of successful applicants have up to now accessed this loan from the start.
He added, “NIRSAL is a very wonderful policy of the Federal Government through the CBN so that farmers can access loans, but some of these policies are not implemented effectively. Some people have applied since February 2020 only to have their application turned down after spending money on the training and business plan. This created a way for IDEs to exploit people. It’s not good. We have over 100 IDEs that exploit people.
According to him, many of its members have been victimized, calling on the CBN to remove EDIs.
“Our members have been victims of this and they continue to complain to my table. The policy is good, but the process is not encouraging and we want the CBN to stop EDI from exploiting us. The process is wrong, which is why EDIs take advantage of it to make money. They charge N5,000 for the business plan, N10,000 for the consultation and N10,000 for the training, making it N25,000 in total. The process is very cumbersome that an individual cannot apply alone from start to finish, so you have to go through these IDEs and they will exploit you and that is very unfortunate,” he pointed out.
He, however, said that there are commendable policies formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aimed at helping farmers in the country, but said that the implementers of these commendable policies thwart the government’s plan to diversify agriculture. economy through agriculture.
Reacting to the wave of insecurity hampering agricultural activities, he said the country’s agriculture contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), noting that concrete efforts must be made to ensure the safety of farmers. .
“The conflict between herders and farmers is affecting the economy and that is why we are seeing rising food prices. We call on the federal government to take the transformation of the agricultural sector very seriously, as it is one of the surest ways to diversify the national economy from hydrocarbon resources. Even at a time when inflation was falling, commodity prices were still high because these farmers could not get to the farm or bring their produce to the markets,” he added.