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As part of activities marking the 45th anniversary of Ogun State, Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun on Wednesday flagged-off the Pre-Season Training and Sensitization of the Batch ‘C’ beneficiaries of Anchor Borrower’s Programme on Cassava in the state.

The ceremony held at the Ogun State Agriculture Development Programme (OGADEP) premises, Abeokuta had in attendance all relevant stakeholders in agricultural sector at the event.

Among them were: Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina; Special Adviser to Governor in Agriculture, Hon. Tope Bankole; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Dotun Sorunke; OGADEP Project Manager, Deaconess Taiwo Ayansanwo; Representative of CBN, Badejo Adekunle; representative of Harvest Plus, beneficiaries and many others.

Governor Abiodun disclosed that in preparation for cassava farming activities, the state government has approved and funded, as well as prepared 2,500 hectares of land to support these 1,100 young beneficiaries who claimed not to have land, while filing their documentation with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the guidance of the state government

The governor, represented at the event by Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina stressed that the 1,100 Ogun State youths whom the state government has linked with funds (credit) in December, 2020, most of which had earlier registered on Ogun job portal, local government iffices and Ministry of Agriculture for Agriculture opportunities.

He said: “At the commencement of rain, the beneficiaries will be further linked with inputs of improved cuttings, fertilizers and further training, as agreed by the farmers organizations and CBN in terms of timing, quantities, price and who to procure.

“The government of Ogun State does not and has not interfered nor participated in the procurement process, rather, it is the farmers themselves that took the earlier decision under the guidelines of CBN for Anchor Borrowers Programme.

“The event of today, is a further testament to the uniqueness of Ogun State Anchor Borrowers Programme, in transparency and innovation and in fulfilling the promise of His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun MFR, to provide additional training and support to Ogun State Youths, who have enrolled into Anchor Borrowers Programme.

“This is to enable them have good yield and repay their loan, so that other youths can be impacted upon in also taking up agricultural opportunities at the cost of government. This additional training opportunity is being fully funded by Ogun State government.

“It is outside the loan structure of CBN and I will implore participants to take full advantage of the free advisory services that are being provided by Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP), which will be in addition to training programmes already embedded in Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) guidelines.”

Furthermore, Abiodun noted that Ogun State has one of the biggest Cassava Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) in the country, with over 5,000 people already on board; the scheme is a Federal Government/CBN/Ogun State government programme with its guidelines on modalities, committees and steps on how to sort out emerging issues.

“Participants are supported to explore these in areas needing clarifications and are implored to shun deliberate misinformation. Off-takers working in collaboration with Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) and Ministry of Agriculture, have already signed up for the crop, at a price and quantity that will be restated to you again, during this pre-season engagement that will help you make informed decisions about this scheme,” he said.

However, in an interview with newsmen, Dr. Odedina expressed: “The Ministry of Agriculture is grateful to His Excellency, Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun MFR, Central Bank of Nigeria, FGN/IFAD/ Ogun State Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), and Ogun State Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) Committee for the extraordinary transparency and credibility of the Ogun State ABP scheme.

He added that a lot is still ahead to be done, to develop good crop at high yield and a good price to the off-takers, and that all hands must be on deck

In the same vein, Hon. Tope Bankole, Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture in his admonition urged the beneficiaries to take advantage of the programme to improve their lives.

The SSA hereby congratulated them, urged them to be serious in their approaches to the programme as well as to do the right thing in other to get the right result.

Similarly, representative of the CBN, Badejo Adekunle elaborated on various types of intervention programmes by CBN, in which cassava ABP is one of them. Tasking them to take leadership role in the course of the programme.

He said that there is serious need for agriculture to take front row in the country , noting that before the advent of crude oil, agriculture had taken the lead. “Nigeria needs to be less dependent on oil and more dependent on agriculture to enhance food security, and to bring people out of poverty.”

Meanwhile, some of the beneficiaries who were at the ceremony thanked the state government for the opportunity to have been selected for the programme without any favour from anybody, be it politicians or anyone else.

They revealed that the programme is real and not fake as being speculated in some quarters in the state and beyond. Adding that their selection process was a testimony of the genuineness of the programme.

According to Bello kafilat Damilola, she said: “I felt so glad and did not expect to find myself to he part of this programme. After the training, we are still going to be given another training by the CBN, befire we will move to our land which has been allocated to us.

“We have our supervisor as our guide, so that they will be able to put us through, teach us what to do, plant, harvest and then make profit.”

Also, Olatunji Emmanuel noted: “The programme is real to the level of my assessment, because I am here live and direct. I applied through the portal and was selected without knowing anybody there. I got my alert directly on my phone from bank.

“I want thank the state governor, Dapo Abiodun for giving the youths this opportunity to be part of the Building Our Future Together agenda through agriculture. I am looking ahead for the CBN training programme too.”

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