By Nathan Nwakamma
The Bayelsa Government has cautioned farmers against the activities of middlemen who extort money from them to enable them to participate in the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
Mrs Helen Ajuwa, the Managing Director of Bayelsa Agriculture Development Company (BADC), gave the advice in Yenagoa against the allegation that some middlemen were taking advantage of farmers.
Ajuwa said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that some middlemen were floating fictitious cooperative societies soliciting membership from farmers wishing to get agriculture loan.
She advised farmers to avoid such persons as their actions were fraudulent.
Ajuwa said that the activities of middlemen who extort money from farmers were illegal as no fee was required to access agricultural credit under the programme.
“It has come to our knowledge that the rate at which illegal agricultural cooperatives exhort money from unsuspecting farmers in the state in the guise to help them secure loan is on the increase.
“Based on the state government’s policy for giving agricultural loans, no farmer needs to pay a dime to access any Federal Government loan,” Ajuwa said.
According to her, the state recently keyed into the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme targeted at 2,000 real fish and cassava farmers in the first phase in 2017.
Ajuwa advised farmers to consult BADC before applying for agriculture loans in order not to fall prey to fraudsters who were bent on extorting from them.
She explained that all fish and cassava farmers needed to do to be registered was to provide land for their farms.
According to her, BADC will take off from that point by clearing the land, provide cassava stems, fertilisers, herbicides and little grant for farm management.
Ajuwa said the state government had set up a strategy to ensure that only genuine farmers benefited from the programme through verification.
She said some farmers had complained of cases of fraud, extortion and ghost beneficiaries of loan, hence the advice.