In a significant move to enhance agricultural development and food security in Nigeria, the Federal Government, in partnership with the Bank of Agriculture, has disbursed N2.3 million in agricultural loans to civil servants. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to bolster the agricultural sector and improve national food security.
Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, announced the disbursement while presenting cheques to four beneficiaries from the first batch of the Agripreneurship Training Scheme. This scheme, under the auspices of her office, saw 87 officers participate in the initial training conducted in March 2023. A second batch of 98 participants is set to commence training on November 20, 2023.
Yemi-Esan reiterated her office’s commitment to effectively implementing this scheme, which aligns with the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2021-2025. It aims to enhance civil servants’ welfare and well-being for high-impact performance. The scheme also aligns with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda, focusing on boosting agriculture to achieve food security.
The Federal Public Service Entrepreneurship programme, of which this initiative is a part, offers civil servants an additional income source, assists retirees in transitioning post-service, and contributes to the development of various economic sectors, thereby increasing the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
This tripartite arrangement involves the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN), and the Bank of Agriculture. Each entity has defined roles and responsibilities as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding to ensure the scheme’s effective implementation.
The Head of Service coordinates the program, PSIN handles theoretical components, and the Bank of Agriculture provides credit facilities to eligible participants for business startups after training. The first batch of trainees underwent a two-week intensive training at PSIN, covering various aspects of the agriculture value chain and participating in hands-on training at selected farms in Abuja.
Alwan Hassan, the Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, highlighted that the credit facility offers a single-digit interest rate of 9 per cent, with loan repayment linked to participants’ salaries. He praised the initiative and encouraged civil servants to engage in agricultural business as a viable option for retirement.
Agricultural Loans: A Step Towards Economic Diversification
The recent disbursement of N2.3 million in agricultural loans to Nigerian civil servants by the Federal Government and the Bank of Agriculture marks a pivotal step in the nation’s journey towards economic diversification and sustainability. At Yohaig NG, we view this initiative as a commendable effort to not only enhance food security but also to empower civil servants with additional income sources.
The Agripreneurship Training Scheme, spearheaded by Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, is a testament to the government’s commitment to diversifying the economy beyond oil. The scheme paves the way for a more resilient and self-sufficient Nigeria by focusing on agriculture, a sector with vast potential. The government must continue supporting such initiatives, ensuring they are accessible to a broader range of civil servants.
This scheme serves as a model for other African nations seeking to strengthen their agricultural sectors. It demonstrates how strategic partnerships between government entities and financial institutions can lead to impactful outcomes. The involvement of the Public Service Institute of Nigeria in providing theoretical training and the Bank of Agriculture in offering credit facilities with favourable terms is a blueprint worth emulating.
However, the success of such initiatives hinges on their effective implementation and the participants’ commitment. The government needs to monitor the progress of these loans and provide necessary support to ensure their optimal use. Additionally, participants should view this opportunity as a means to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s food security and economic growth.
As Nigeria continues to navigate economic challenges, initiatives like the Agripreneurship Training Scheme are beacons of hope. They not only provide immediate financial support but also lay the groundwork for a more diversified and robust economy. We urge the government to expand such schemes, ensuring they reach a wider audience and contribute significantly to Nigeria’s economic development.
Did You Know?
- Nigeria’s Agricultural Potential: Nigeria is one of the largest agricultural producers in Africa, with significant contributions to the continent’s overall agricultural output.
- Bank of Agriculture’s Role: Established to support small and medium-sized enterprises in agriculture, the Bank of Agriculture plays a crucial role in Nigeria’s agricultural financing.
- Civil Service in Nigeria: The Nigerian civil service is one of the largest in Africa, employing a significant portion of the country’s workforce.
- Economic Diversification Efforts: Nigeria has been actively working towards diversifying its economy, with agriculture being a key sector in this strategy.
- Impact of Agriculture on GDP: Agriculture contributes significantly to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making it a vital sector for economic growth and stability.