- Applicants are worried that the federal government agric loan scheme is being hijacked by people the scheme is not meant for in Bayelsa state
- The applicants are also worried that besides the fact that the scheme is being hijacked by people not meant for, cooperative societies are extorting money from the farmers
- But Managing Director of Bayelsa Agric Development Company has said extortion is illegal and that farmers should not pay a dime to access the loan
Scores of applicants for the federal government proposed agricultural loan through the Central Bank of Nigeria) (CBN) and the federal ministry of agriculture have cried out over alleged cases of fraud, extortion of farmers and the listing of ghost beneficiaries for the loan.
While some claim that though the same issues characterize the past federal government loan scheme with the state government picking up the debt for repayment without visible means of identifying beneficiaries, the recent processes conducted by the Bayelsa Agric Development Company (BADC) through the state owned SME bank, has been adjudged faulty with many of the applicants and cooperatives involved are ghost beneficiaries intending to use the loans for non-agricultural purposes.
Investigations showed that most of the applicants, identified as not having visible farms in the state have negotiated with officials of the BADC to ensure such loans are granted with certain percentage meant for them.
NAIJ.com gathered that most of these ghost applicants are known to be politicians, unemployed youths and civil servants in the state. It is also alleged that some of the listed applicants are family members and cronies of the staff of the BADC.
Already, the Managing Director of the BADC, Mrs. Helen Ajuwa, while confirming the fraudulent acts of some applicants, described the cases of extortion as illegal, said: "The rate at which illegal agricultural cooperatives exhort money from unsuspecting farmers in the state in the guise to help them secure loan is on the increase."
She stressed that based on the state government's principle and standard for giving agricultural loans, no farmer needed to pay a dime to access any federal government agric loan.
Mrs. Helen Ajuwa made the clarifications during an interview in her office in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital.
According to her, the state recently keyed into the CBN Anchor borrowers programme and the scheme is focused on establishing 2000 real fish and cassava farmers in the state during the first phase of the program for 2017.
Explaining further, she urged farmers in the state to consult the office of the BADC before applying for agric loan in order not to fall prey to fraudsters that are bent on extorting money from them.
Giving more insight to the CBN Anchor programme, she said all fish and cassava farmers should do to get registered is to provide a land that they rightly own and the BADC would take it off that point by clearing the land, providing them with cassava stems, fertilizers, herbicides and little grant for farm management, as they are not expected to pay money to secure the grant.
She said this time the state government has set up better strategy to ensure that only real farmers benefit from the programme as there would be different degrees of verification of intending farmers and inspection of farm lands.
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