The Association of Agricultural Vendors of Nigeria (APSAN) lamented the cumbersome process of applying for the AGSMEIS program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), noting that Entrepreneurial Development Institutions (EDI) are taking 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 was being defeated, not thanks to IDEs.
Meanwhile, the Microfinance Bank of Nigeria, Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), issued a statement denying the request and promised to grant approvals for the loan applications.
Akortsaha said, “AGSMEIS deliberately introduced by the federal government to provide 8 year long term loans, but NIRSAL has succeeded in empowering or creating an avenue for EDI, because before accessing these funds, you have to go through EDI who would form and prepare a business plan for you for around 25,000 N, but after paying this fee, applicants still cannot access loans, just a fragment of successful applicants have up to now accessed this loan from the beginning.
He added, “NIRSAL is a very good policy from the federal government through the CBN so that farmers can access loans, but some of these policies are not being implemented effectively. Some people have applied since February 2020 only to have their application turned down after spending money on training and business plan. It 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 were victims, calling on the CBN to suppress EDI.
“Our members have been victims of this and they continue to file complaints at 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 flawed, which is why IDEs take the opportunity to make money. They charge 5,000 N for the business plan, 10,000 N for consultation and 10,000 N for training, which makes a total of 25,000 N. The process is very cumbersome that an individual cannot apply alone. from start to finish, you have to go through these IDEs and they will exploit you and that is very unfortunate, ”he said.
He said, however, that there are laudable policies formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aimed at helping the country’s farmers, but said those charged with implementing such laudable policies thwart the plan. of government aimed at diversifying the 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 pastoralist-farmer conflict affects the economy and that is why we are seeing food prices rise. We call on the federal government to be very serious in transforming the agricultural sector, as it is one of the surest ways to diversify the country’s economy from hydrocarbon resources. Even at a time when inflation was falling, commodity prices were still high because these farmers could not go to the farm or bring their produce to markets, ”he added.