The Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) on Thursday presented awards and cash prizes to three outstanding farmers and a financial institution for their efforts to boost agriculture.
The awards were presented during the Best National Farmers Award in Abuja, in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Award for Best Farmer for the Year, 2020 was presented to Mr Martin Ibeabuchi of Nemat Farms, Enugu, who received a cash prize of N1,000, 000.
Mr Sunday Udoakang, of Akang Farms and Ventures Limited from Akwa Ibom state came second with a cash prize of N750, 000 while Vitus Ubah of Summit Agro Services, Abuja, came third and won a cash prize of N500, 000.
Also, LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited was named as the Best Supporting Financial Institution for 2020.
Mr Stephen Okon, Chairman of ACGSF Board, said that the fund was established in 1977, to guarantee agricultural credit facilities granted to farmers.
Okon said that the Federal Government and the CBN contributed to the fund in the ratio of 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.
He added that the CBN served as the managing agent of the scheme and secretariat of the fund.
“The fund encourages Deposit Money Banks to lend to those engaged in agriculture by providing guarantee.
“It mitigates risks associated with banks’ lending to agriculture by guaranteeing to pay banks 75 per cent of the net amount in default.
“The fund provides guarantee in respect of loans granted by any bank for agricultural purposes, with the aim of increasing the level of bank credit to the agriculture sector,’’ he said.
The board chairman announced that the share capital of the fund had increased from N3 billion to N50 billion over time.
He added that the maximum loans given to farmers without collateral had also increased from N20,000 to N100,000, while maximum loans with collateral also increased from N10 million to N50 million.
Mr Yila Yusuf, CBN’s Director of Development Financing, commended the ACGSF for the awards, and urged the farmers who were awarded to see it as a mark of encouragement to do more.
“Those who did not win should not be discouraged but see it as a clarion call to increase their efforts in improving their yields,’’ he said.
The ACGSF yearly awards for farmers were introduced in the 1980s to encourage and promote excellence and healthy competition among farming enterprises.