The Bank of Agriculture has said that it has disbursed N1.4 billion out of the N9.9 billion Small and Medium Enterprise fund to 5,300 cassava farmers cultivating 11,000 hectares of cassava in Nigeria.

The Executive Director Wholesale Finance of the bank, Waziri Ahmadu, said in Abuja at the launch of the 10 per cent composite cassava flour and commissioning and presentation of equipment to master bakers that the bank had financed N1.1 billion to farmers who are producing 8, 000 hectares of cassava about 12 months ago.

Ahmadu said that N200m has been approved for disbursement to farmers before the end of the week. He said: “Out of the N9.9 billion that the Permanent Secretary had earlier given to BoA to support farmers to produce cassava on 29,500 hectares, the bank diligently appraised and approved the disbursement to about 5, 300 farmers doing about 11,000 hectares of cassava. “As of today, we have disbursed N1.4bn and there is another N200m that has been approved for disbursement before the end of this week. We do our disbursement through a product that the bank runs called BoA green cash. It is a mobile money service and it is very convenient to the clientele that we serve.

He explained that the money would be used to pay for land preparation and the supply of inputs for the production of cassava, noting that on average, farmers will only need to pay or repay about 30 per cent of what is being disbursed to them. He said the minister has approved that the rest, about 65 or 70 per cent be given as grant to farmers.” Ahmadu added that most of the funds have been used for land preparation and planting, while inputs have been delivered to various redemption centers in the country.

“A lot of this land has already been prepared and planted. Inputs are currently been delivered to various redemption centres around the country from where they are redistributed to various clusters that are associated with the mills that are producing this high quality cassava flour. “The cassava that is being funded today will take 12 months to come on stream. And they need cassava roots immediately to be able to make sense of this programme. I am happy to announce that the bank of agriculture had earlier financed N1.1bn to farmers who are producing 8, 000 hectares of cassava about 12 months ago a lot of which should have been on stream,” he said.

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