The Edo State government in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is to set up a N500 million Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), to provide credit for agribusiness investments, Governor Godwin Obaseki has said.

He spoke at the Government House, Benin City, at the inauguration of a committee to oversee the scheme.

It is intended to de-risk investments in agriculture.The governor said the programme, which was set up by the Federal Government through the CBN, was to provide credit for agricultural transactions, stressing that it was critical to his administration’s agricultural initiatives.

He said the government was not interested in agribusiness to start farms, but only interested in de-risking the process and creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to emerge and thrive.

Members of the nine-man committee headed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Prince Joe Okojie, according to Obaseki, were selected based on their expertise and accomplishments.

He noted that it was not another avenue for political patronage.

The governor said the committee members would serve as a monitoring team and manage funds from the CBN to guarantee its judicious use by farmers across the three senatorial districts.

He said the idea was to support large-scale commercial agriculture so that their growth would stimulate and scale up activities of small-scale farmers.

“Time, experience and technology are important in agriculture. We need to engage the services of consultants and experts to work with the committee and use the advantage of the dry season to our benefit,” Obaseki said.

He said over N500 million was available from expected funds and outlined their terms of reference to include: Oversee and ensure equitable distribution of fund; promote an efficient and inclusive participation of key stakeholders; ensure proper monitoring and evaluation; guarantee the integrity of each access to information; ensure fund usage by beneficiaries are in line with the terms of the scheme; monitor the impact and constantly look for ways to improve the probability of reaching the expected result of the scheme.

The committee Chairman, Prince Joe Okojie, pledged to deliver on their terms of reference and promised to be fair and objective in the management of the credit facility.