The flag-off of Anchor Borrowers Programme is in fulfilment of the promise to increase food production and create employment opportunities for the people of Ogun State, especially the youth and the women folk.

The State Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun who stated this at the flag-off of the State’s Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme, at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, said the target of his administration was to make the State food basket of the nation by producing for self sufficiency and exportation, in the long term.

He noted that the Scheme was an agreement between the State as facilitator and the Central Bank of Nigeria as financier, adding that it was an avenue to boost the nation’s food production in line with Federal government’s agenda on food security, in order to save foreign exchange spent on food importation.

He expressed surprise that despite the State’s favourable climate, fertile land and a population of energetic youths and the success of the Scheme in other States, Ogun had never access the funds for the teeming unemployed youths and farmers, explaining that the setting up of the State Anchor Borrowers’ Committee would ensure farmers in the State were partakers of the programme.

Prince Abiodun said 2,000 beneficiaries had been selected and would be given Certificates of Acceptance and a Lease hood, urging them  to reciprocate the good gesture of the State Government by utilising the opportunity, be committed and responsible in repayment plan, noting that there was a nexus between unemployment and criminality, which could be solved through the Scheme.

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Prince Abiodun hinted that the African Finance Development Bank (AFDB) was putting machineries in place to site the largest Agro-Processing Zone in Ogun State, explaining that the development was as a result of government’s engagements with officials of the Bank, who had been in his office twice in the last two and a half months.

“The African Finance Development Bank is headed by Prof. Akinwunmi Adesina, an indigene of the State. The Bank decided that they were having two Agro-Processing Zones in Nigeria and Prof. Adesina decided that the biggest must be sited on Ogun State. This is the result of our constructive engagement with the Bank over the last 70 days or so”, he said.

Earlier in her opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Abosede Ogunleye noted that agriculture remained a key sector that could help absorb the increasing number of graduates in the labour market, saying there had been a disconnect between agriculture and graduates, hence the need to create viable economic opportunities to engage the youths.

She encouraged farmers to join government in building the future of the younger generation, noting that the programme would improve the economy and change the livelihood of farmers.

“Many of our youths are trapped in the cycle of poverty. However, with adequate skill acquisition and financial empowerment, the agricultural sector could be transformed into a great asset to the country by producing a new generation of young farmers that are business focused”, Mrs. Ogunleye noted.

Head of Developing Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Oluyemisi Olukoya, urged the State to mobilise more people into the Scheme, as only 5,249 had registered.

Chairman, Ogun State Anchors’ Borrower Programme, Prof. Bola Okuneye, said the programme was designed to link off-takers of agriculture products with producers, so that farmers would know there was demand for their products at an agreed price for improved production which would guarantee abundant agricultural products in the nation.

One of the beneficiaries Mrs. Savage Falomo, appreciated the State Government for the good gesture, saying the Scheme would increase food production and ultimately reduce the high level of crime being witnessed in the country, urging youths in the State to key into the programme and harness the opportunities provided for their benefit and the State.

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