The Bank of Industry (BoI) under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP) has disbursed N200 million to 4,000 farmers in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau state.

BoI is partnering an international agency, Oxfam Nigeria to disburse the loan to farmers in the states under the Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLA).

Oxfam Nigeria, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, by its Deputy Country Director, Mr. Constant Tchona, said the loan would strengthen the livelihoods capacity and resilience of poor households in rural communities.

According to Tchona, the partnership was borne out of the need to target the most marginalised and hard to reach in the rural communities in line with the objectives of the Federal Government Social Intervention policy.

He said the funds, tagged “GEEP MarketMoni” is the first batch of the loans meant to expand the activities of about 500 farmer groups in some communities in the three States.

“The disbursement of the funds is a good development for us as Oxfam. It demonstrates the fact that the government is responding to the needs of the rural farmers who produce what we eat but have been lacking financial support for improvement.

“The coming on board of BoI will boost the scheme thereby the rural farmers will be able to improve their productivities and increase their earnings.

“This will definitely boost the morale of these farmers to expand their farming activities, increase their income and reducing the poverty at the rural communities,” said.

Executive Director of the Microenterprise Directorate in BoI, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, said the loan is part of the federal government’s directive to the bank to ensure financial inclusion and access to credit for 1.6 million beneficiaries.

“This is part of the Federal Government’s mandate to BoI to achieve, amongst others, financial inclusion and access to credit for 1.6 million beneficiaries across target segments – market women and traders, artisans, enterprising youths, agricultural workers, agro-allied processors and other MSME categories in furtherance of the attainment of poverty eradication, employment generation, growth and development of Micro Enterprises throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” she said.

The statement added that Oxfam Nigeria implementing partners; Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), Nigerian Association of Women in Agriculture (NAWIA), and Cocin Community Development Program (CCDP) would be responsible for monitoring and supporting the beneficiaries to effectively utilise the funds in Nassarawa, Benue and Plateau respectively.