By Adedayo Akinwale
The House of Representatives has ordered an investigation into the disbursements of N275 billion agricultural loans to farmers from 2009 till date.
The House ordered the probe following the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary yesterday by Hon. Chike Okafor.
Moving the motion, Okafor said between 2009 and 2021, the federal government has approved the disbursement of funds to farmers in various schemes to the tune of over N275 billion.
He stressed that the scheme ranges from Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) to Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), meant to help farmers improve agricultural production and guarantee food security in Nigeria.
The lawmaker said apart from increasing food supply, the scheme is aimed at granting agricultural loans to large and small scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
Okafor, however, lamented that since the approval, most farmers have not been able to access the loans due to stringent requirements being demanded by banks from prospective borrowers and the alleged siphoning of over N105 billion meant for farmers by management of NIRSAL.
The lawmaker expressed concern that food production has not attained the expected level despite the approval of over N275 billion facilities for farmers.
Okafor pointed out that the projected diversification of the economy from oil production to agricultural production and increase in agricultural output, food supply and promoting low food inflation would not be achieved if farmers are unable to access loans meant to increase agricultural production.
The House, therefore, mandated its “Committees on Agriculture and Banking and Currency to investigate disbursements and compliance of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 till date, to enhance national food security in the country.”