By Lydia Ngwakwe
Lagos, June 21, 2022
Three farmers in Lagos State have won the “Best Farmer of the Year 2021” award by the Development Finance Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the farmers were given the awards at the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) Farmer of the year award, on Tuesday in Lagos.
The recipients who are into poultry, fish, snail and pig farming, got cash prizes of N50,000, N75,000 and N100,000 respectively.
Also, the Lapo MicroFinance Bank was honoured as the “Best Participating Financial Institution of the Year 2021.”
The Lagos State Branch Controller, CBN, Mr Koyor Baribokola, represented by Mr Nnaemeka Ukanyiriola, said the bank rewarded participants who had shown exceptional promise and dedication to growing Nigeria’s agricultural sector despite numerous challenges.
He said the previous year was particularly difficult with businesses trying to recover from the aftereffects of a global pandemic.
“It is evident that our commitment in rebuilding our agricultural might as a nation is crucial not only for our subsistence but also our economic relevance on a global scale.
“These awards are not only a reflection of our commitment to agricultural development, but also in line with our core values as an organisation.
“As the bank continues to design and implement measures to improve food security by facilitating access to finance to the agricultural sector, we are confident that farmers will continue to grow and scale their businesses over time,” he said.
He said a total of 31, 666 loans, valued at N5.92 billion were guaranteed under the ACGSF in 2021.
Mrs Olatokunbo Emokpac, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, said the state was making great efforts to close the gap between local production and consumption in the state.
Emokpac, represented by Mr Olushina Shobande, Assistant Director from the Agricultural Business Department, said the total consumption in the state currently stood at 20 per cent.
“As you know, Lagos is the market and you know, Lagos State is limited by land. So, it is virtually impossible for us to produce everything that we eat in Lagos State by over 22 million within the state.
“So, we are currently at 20 per cent local production of our total consumption; we are striving by implementing our agricultural roadmap within the year 2021 and 2025 to ensure that we push that to 40 per cent,” she said.
Emokpac, however, said the state had been giving farmers and other stakeholders the needed input at subsidised rates through its empowerment programme annually.
She said, “we even give them grants in the form of input every year to ensure that we increase production.
“We rely heavily on CBN, particularly the development finance to provide the financial support through the single digit rates, which is the cheapest you can get in the country, through their various programmes.”
Ogunnimo Ayodele, the best farmer of the year 2021, who took the second position in 2020, thanked the apex bank for the initiative, saying it had allowed farmers access to more credible finance.
“I will not say it’s a huge one, I will like to use this opportunity to say that CBN can help us improve on the access that we have because inflation affects the amount that is being guaranteed.
“On behalf of all farmers, we would really appreciate it if the funds that are guaranteed can be increased,” he said.
Joy Nwakego, a pig farmer and the second best farmer of the year 2021, appreciated CBN for reviving her business after she was affected by swine flu in 2013.
“I appreciate everything. But, we need more, we want to grow, we are the bedrock of this nation; in my area in Badagry, my production is less than the demand; I need to expand to satisfy my customers.
“I live in a place where what I produce is generally consumed and it’s very scarce due to the high price of raw materials.
“A lot of farmers are going out of business. The few of us that are left are left with so many customers we can’t satisfy. So, we need help to be able to solve this problem,” she said.