CRSG ratifies programmes to boost agriculture, rural industries
From VITALIS UGOH, Calabar –
The Cross River State Executive Council yesterday ratified two programmes targeted at boosting the rural economy and creation of wealth.They are Project Awake and Cross River State Government/Bank of Industry Fund for medium and small scale industries.
The Special Adviser Investment Promotion, Mr. Gerald Adah, disclosed this to newsmen at the end of the state executive council meeting.
According to Adah, these projects are focused on meeting MDGs 1 and 3 and are targeted at poverty reduction and balancing while their beneficiaries will be trained, monitored and provided with access.
Adah explained that Project Awake is an agricultural programme to be undertaken by Ministry of Agriculture, in conjunction with Ministry of Social Welfare, Micro Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) and Partnership Opportunities for Women Empowerment Realization (POWER) while the Cross River/Bank of Industry Fund will be handled by First Bank and it funding monitored by a reputable financial institution.
He disclosed that 400 million Naira out of 1.2billion Naira has been made available for Project Awake as a pilot scheme while an initial 500million Naira has been made available for Cross River/Bank of Industry Fund depending on capacity of the people to access funds.
The Special Adviser said the State Government spent 12 months to appraise agriculture and small/medium scale industries in rural areas and found out that women are more prudent and pay back their loans and felt there was need to encourage them to grow more food and create additional value.
Adah explained that by increasing productivity, new businesses will key into the programme especially in cassava, plantain and rice production and that the programme is focused on women in agriculture.
He therefore enjoined Cross Riverians to key into the project as it is envisaged to be implemented in all local government areas as according to him, 70 percent of rural farmers are women and they sustain the house hold.
On Cross River/Bank of Industry Fund, Adah said counterpart funding will be made available by Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry with low interest rate and commission that business men can access than commercial banks.
He remarked that the loan, which is well structured to support purchase and importation of equipment, has a gestation period of two years and has been carefully arranged with a lot of issues taken into consideration but is not intended for start ups.
Commissioner for Information, Chief Akin Ricketts, described the projects as one of the visions of Governor Liyel Imoke to grow the capacity of rural people and enhance their standard of living.
According to Ricketts, they are created to address challenges facing rural farmers and small/medium scale businesses because they encounter stringent requirements by commercial banks.
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