Niger State government is to access additional N200 billion federal government agriculture enhancement loan for farmers across the nation.
The state government had earlier received N1 billion from the N200 billion fund and distributed same to 757 cooperative/farm associations in the state with a balance of N148.6 million, which has already been approved for disbursement.
The state commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Abdullahi Kwotu, told LEADERSHIP in an interview over the weekend that the loan was targeted at boosting the production of arable crops, livestock and fisheries.
The commissioner said if the state was able to access additional N1 billion, it would eventually have N2 billion in the revolving loan being managed by a first generation bank in the state.
He said that the major aim of the government was to use the loan to increase rice production in the state from 600,000 metric tonnes annually to 1 million metric tonnes to fill the gap that would be created by the planned ban on importation of rice.
He, however, said that the loan scheme, a one-year revolving loan, was due for repayment from some of the benefiting farmers who had started repayment since March this year.
The commissioner said out of N300 million due for repayment, about N150 million had been repaid, representing 50 percent, noting that repayment response was higher among rural farmers.
Kwotu said the success of the scheme in the state prompted the government to go for another N1 billion loan to take the amount to N2 billion. He said that the scheme, since it was started last year, had increased the agricultural output to over 30 percent as the emphasis will be paid to rice production.