Management team of new generation bank, Keystone Bank, has commended the expansion project of farmers in Nasarawa state after a surprise visit to the farm on Wednesday, saying the team was impressed with the ongoing expansion at the farm.
A team from Lagos and North Central led by Divisional Head, Abuja-Wuse Division, Mr. Akinsanmi Falaki, paid a visit to the farm on Tuesday as part of the management team from Keystone Bank to monitor the central bank’s support for the farm, verifying progress and also providing further support for the farmers.
The team leader said the visit was part of the bank’s normal routine monitoring check on credit facilities availed to farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria
The farm which is own by over 500 farmers and manage by the Nigerian Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) in Kokona local government area of Nasarawa state, is one of single largest community-based farm settlement in Nigeria currently supported by the CBN.
“What I saw on ground is that there have been significant improvement on ground. The rice mill is now automated. They also now have automated poultry, cold room, they are now concluding the setting up of their greenhouse, they have planted planted variety of crops,” Falaki told journalists.
He said: “I am here today as a top management staff of the bank, part of our routine check is to ensure that costumers utilise the funds availed to them properly and translate same profitability.
“So far so good, I do not have any doubt that Nigeria Farmers Group will perform and they will continue to meet their payment obligations and translate all the investment we have seen on ground to naira and kobo.
“So it is just to encourage them to continue to work hard. I am happy that I saw the principals on ground working very hard, even when we came to the farm unannounced.”
The financial guru however advised management of the farm to continue to build good relationship with creditors as they will continue to support them even with professional advice.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of the group, Mr. Retson Tedheke, said he was impressed with the visit as it provided ground to strengthen the existing relationship with Keystone Bank as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“I am happy they were overwhelmed by what they saw with crop cultivation ongoing for the season by over 500 farmers.
They saw a 45 tons rice mill, they also saw thirty thousand automated poultry for birds completed. They saw indoor ranch with the capacity of holding 500 animals for fattening, including cow, sheep and goats. Construction of greenhouse ongoing,” he said.
He said the farm has positioned itself as an example of what the federal government wants to see as farm settlements (or Ruga as some will prefer) in the entire country.
“We already have a farm house and settlement where majority of the staff live. A standard football pitch and sports complex for in and outdoor recreation,” he said.
Mr Retson expressed confident that the support gotten from the federal government through the CBN and currently monitor by Keystone Bank is would no doubt yield positive results but the government needs to invest more to expand the capacity of the farm so as to increase the number of staff from over five hundred to at least one thousand and above.
He said: “You can use this as a way of fighting insecurity because the truth is, this is an economy question. If you are able do this in all the local government or expand what we already have on ground, you can take ten thousand youths from the street.
“The farm has committed 100% of the facility given to it towards upgrading. More needs to be done urgently to empower Nigerians knowing that we may have issues with draught.
“The farm has been able to build a dam and a power line. The dam has been able to account for support of farmers and communities around the area farming all year in the last one year.
“A lot has been done but more needs to be done, said Retson who commended the Central Bank low interest rate, however appealed to the apex bank to summon the courage to release more funds for farmers like them who have dedicated their life to building the nation’s agro sector.”