By Precious Ukeje
The Anambra Small Business Agency, headed by Mr Clement Chukwuka, has begun the disbursement of agriculture loans to beneficiaries across the state.
This was made known to Fides by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Tuesday, July 7, at the agency’s office along Enugu-Onitsha Express Way, Awka.
The Director who noted that they were at the terminal end of everything, said as at the time of gathering this report, that he was expecting at least four hundred beneficiaries to turn up in the office for completion of processes required as qualification for receiving the money.
He added that he expected almost a thousand and five hundred agricultural beneficiaries to attend to on the following day.
He regretted that a lot of persons had returned several times to the agency for failure of adhering correctly to the requirements expected of them to qualify for the funds.
Chukwuka said the Anambra State Government had over time created an enabling environment which allowed for the thriving of businesses within the private sector and added that such was the duty of government all over the world.
While he noted that the Willie Obiano Government had done well in the area of paying the backlog of debts accumulated by previous governments, despite the slippery nature of the economy, he said that even people without affiliation with influential people in the state were beneficiaries of the agricultural loans.
The ASBA Director disclosed that some of the programmes within the ambit of the Agriculture Ministry included, ‘Choose Your Community Project’ and funding of seven youths per community to get trained in agricultural enterprises.
These youths, he said, would be selected by various community leaders and forwarded to the state government through the Ministry of Agriculture.
He lauded the governor who he noted, made a decision to govern Anambra with strong institutions, adding that institutions outlived their owners.
He reiterated that ASBA was established by the governor with the approval of the House of Assembly for the purpose of fund disbursement when every other operation had been completed at the level of ministries.
Chukwuka, who expressed worry that the COVID-19 protocols needed to be maintained in the agency’s office, instructed the officers there not to delay the processes.
Speaking to Fides, Francis Onyekwe, a beneficiary of the loan, who noted that he was there to obtain agricultural loan facilities, noted that the interest rate was nine percent, while the maximum loan range was three hundred thousand Naira.
He said that the process was not hectic and that anyone who met the requirements got access to the loan, while the reverse was the case for persons who failed to meet the requirements.
The beneficiary noted that the process started with the Ministry of Agriculture who sent inspectors to his farm yard, after which they forwarded a written approval to the Anambra Small Business Agency.
He noted that ASBA needed personal information of the beneficiary, place of work, and details of the farm which is intended to either be expanded or started. He added that beneficiary’s guarantor’s information was also required.
He said the facility was open to everyone; civil servants or not, adding that salary was not enough and some civil servants had resorted to agriculture to double their streams of income.