11th March, 2011
The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has flagged off the first phase of its Agricultural Credit Scheme, expected to touch the lives of 1,660 youths from 166 cooperative societies in the Niger Delta region.
N500 million has already been provided as cash security deposit for the take off of the first phase of the scheme while N304 million has been remitted to the commissionâ€™s partnering bank, Bank of Agriculture for the second phase of the programme.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony in Port Harcourt, which also held simultaneously across the nine Niger Delta States, Managing Director of the NDDC, Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha disclosed that the ultimate aim is to bring about the much desired improvement on the quality of life of the people of the region, aside from meeting the food security and agro-industrial needs of the region and the country.
According to him the programme is also in line with the commissionâ€™s policy thrust on agricultural development which emphasises wealth and job creation, food security and poverty reduction.
Mr. Ugwoha explained that the scheme is designed for Niger Delta youths, women and men who have been trained in various agricultural skills, adding â€œall NDDC Agric Skills graduates who have formed themselves into cooperative societies and have met necessary criteria for the credit scheme are encouraged to exercise patience for the third and subsequent phases.â€
In his speech, Director Business Development, Bank of Agriculture Ltd., Engr. Waziri Ahmadu disclosed that NDDC has provided over N800 million for the bank to disburse to agriculture and agribusiness enterprise groups in the Niger Delta region who have been trained under the commissionâ€™s skills acquisition programme.
The bank, he said, has also created NDDC-help-desks in all its implementing branch offices and enjoined the groups to avail themselves of their services.
Also speaking, Director Agric And Fisheries, NDDC, Dr. (Mrs.) Akwagaga Enyia disclosed that the commission has so far trained 11,000 youths in various agricultural skills, out of which 1,100 are cooperatives.
Former Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University Of Science and Technology, Professor Simeon Achinewhu, who is one of the beneficiaries, commended the NDDC for the bold initiative, promising thatÂ the cooperatives will not only utilise the loans for the desired purpose, but will also pay back.
â€”Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt