The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the total repayment of loans under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) stood at N503 billion, representing 52.39 per cent.
The Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Dr AbdulMumin Isa, made this known in a statement on Monday.
Isa said that the apex bank remained committed to its developmental mandate of stimulating access to finance for the real sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a recent report, had said only 24 per cent of loans collected by farmers under the ABP had been repaid.
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The IMF said the report was based on the information available at the time it was completed on Jan. 12.
According to the IMF, agricultural credit in the country has not significantly succeeded in increasing production due to the difficulty in targeting the correct recipients.
It said that although the CBN allowed farmers to pay in cash or give the CBN their produce of the same value, repayments had been very low.
According to Isa, the CBN has released N1.079 trillion under the programme, out of which N960 billion is due for repayment.
He said that the ABP had supported about 4.57 million smallholder farmers who cultivated over 6.02 million hectares of 21 commodities across the country.
He listed the commodities as rice, wheat, cowpea, millet, maize, cotton, fish, soya bean, poultry, cassava, groundnut, ginger, sorghum, oil palm, cocoa, sesame, tomato, castor seed, yellow pepper, onions, and cattle/dairy.
Isa said that the ABP had contributed significantly to the increased national output of focal commodities, with maize and rice peaking at 12.2 and 9.0 million metric tonnes in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
He said the programme had also helped to improve the national average yield per hectare of the commodities, with productivity per hectare almost doubling within the eight years of the programme’s implementation.
According to the acting director, repayments under the ABP have been made through cash or produce by the beneficiaries.
He said that the outstanding due balance on loans was still under moratorium due to the COVID-19 forbearance granted to beneficiaries of the apex bank’s interventions in March 2020 and extended to Feb. 28, 2022.
“It is pertinent to note that the tenor of loans under the ABP is based on the commodity gestation period.
“For instance, loans granted to farmers cultivating some perennial crops could have up to seven-year tenor,” he said.
He said that CBN’s interventions, with the core objective of catalysing the economy’s productive base, have continued to support investments in capital assets in sectors with high-growth and employment-elastic potential.
NAN reports that the ABP was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2015, to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in processing and smallholder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
It was designed to provide farm inputs to the beneficiaries to boost production of the key commodities, stabilise input supply to agro-processors and address Nigeria’s negative balance of payments on food. (NAN)