✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Re: Eye on Kebbi dry season farming

Our attention has been drawn to a publication titled “Eye on Kebbi Dry Season Farming” published in the Daily Trust edition of 8th March, 2016.…

Our attention has been drawn to a publication titled “Eye on Kebbi Dry Season
Farming” published in the Daily Trust edition of 8th March, 2016. For the avoidance of doubt, the publication falsely and purportedly quoted the Chairman of State’s Program Implementation Committee, Alh. Garba Dandiga, who pointedly denied ever granting an interview to the writer on the program.
The said publication also contained some misleading and hasty account on the progress and implementation of the Kebbi state “CBN-Anchor Borrowers Program” for dry season rice farming. While it’s not our intention to join issues with the writer, it behoves us to set the records straight and clarify the modus operandi of the program for the benefit of the interested public.
To begin with, the Rice farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kebbi branch, with the support and encouragement of the Kebbi state government sought financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria for an initial 150,000 registered rice farmers to expand the state’s production of rice in its vast and rich Fadama land. However, the CBN agreed to finance only 70,000 farmers out of the projected numbers after they fulfilled all the stringent laid down conditions set by the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, this became one of the biggest agricultural financing arrangements in Nigeria by any institution to the small holder dry season rice farmers and the experiences so far, have been exceedingly great. All the beneficiaries of this unprecedented intervention are registered members of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kebbi state branch. 
This immense and incredible feat is structured, facilitated and achieved as a result of the relentless zeal and unwavering commitment of the Kebbi state government under the able tutelage of its Governor, Senator Abubakar A Bagudu. First, was the launching of the national ‘Anchor Borrowers Program’ (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari in Birnin Kebbi, on the 17th November 2015. Second, was the painstaking planning and tenuous negotiation of the facility that culminated into the current stage of disbursing the cash component of the loan to the farmers for labour associated expenses.
The loan facility is being accessed under the Central Bank of Nigeria ‘Anchor Borrowers Program’ at a single digit and, is being managed by the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) as the implementation vehicle for the disbursement of the loan (cash and inputs) to the beneficiary farmers of the state’s dry season rice farming.
The model adopted by the program is an all-inclusive and participatory arrangement in which all the stakeholders including the RIFAN take joint decisions in the size of loan per hectare, inputs required and the cash component per farmer at all stages of the cropping season.
The expected yields and profit per hectare is also pre-determined based on the cost of inputs employed and expenses for crop management activities. Thus, the entire gamut of the program is insulated from the usual bureaucracy and political interference associated with similar initiatives in the past. It confers ownership and substantial control in the RIFAN.
The state’s government involvement is largely to support, coordinate and monitor efforts of all parties concerned in the efficient delivery of the program’s objectives. The state also funds the critical logistics, training and extension services free of charge to the farmers enrolled into the program.
As a rule, and in order to guarantee high yields and ensure that farmers receive the best inputs, the state’s government implementation committee in conjunction with the CBN, RIFAN and the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) jointly take decisions on issues relating to input suppliers and the quality of inputs to be sourced and at what prices to the farmers. The qualification for registration and enrolment in the program is strictly handled by RIFAN whose membership has now exceeded 200,000 for both large and small holder farmers. The criteria for participation in the program are nonpartisan and non-discriminatory and embrace all categories of associations and gender based rice farmers.
The rice initiative is intended to boost local production, provide employment and incomes, raise the living standards and bridge the gaps between local demands and the nation’s supply of paddy. From the initial stage of planting to the harvesting period the farmers receive support and training in the right agronomic practices and guaranteed off takers for their paddy at a pre-determined minimum price.
All participating farmers received inputs based on agreed requirements per hectare and the cash component is disbursed as dictated by the farming cycle and the demand for labour and other crop management needs. The program’s yield per hectare is further insured to mitigate any unforeseen circumstances leading to crop failure. The planning and management of the program forecloses any abuses in its implementation and provides for penalties where such are observed.
It is therefore difficult and unacceptable for none members of RIFAN to benefit from the program given the levels of control instituted to safeguard the integrity of the process. The mandatory checks and the verification exercises for the entire cropping cycle are jointly conducted by all stakeholders, in particular, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Agriculture (BOA). For instance, beneficiary farmers must belong to a cluster or associations of 10 – 30 farmers in a given farming community and must possess a verifiable leadership and compulsory membership of RIFAN. All farmers must also maintain a bank account and issued with BVN in order to qualify for inputs and cash for crop management. Cash disbursement to farmers for labour associated expenses is contingent on BVN registration and the Central Bank of Nigeria does not waive this requirement.
It would therefore amount to a miracle for the unintended persons to infiltrate the processes or for the state’s committee to accord undue advantage to those who would pollute the program. Ordinarily, a program of this magnitude must subject itself to public scrutiny and evaluation to allow for improvement and lessons to be learnt; but it’s too hasty to judge its outcome less than half way into the programme.
Whilst the purchase of inputs from approved suppliers, including certified seeds is always a due diligence activity, sometimes it’s unavoidable to experience inconsequential contamination of seeds in crop farming relative to the scale of the program. Nonetheless, a credible mechanism is put in place to track the performance of all input suppliers and necessary sanctions provided for.
An elaborate security arrangement has also been put in place to apprehend unscrupulous individuals with sinister intentions to lure farmers into selling their inputs with a view to discourage them from participating in the program.
However, the consolation lies in the fact that every farmer’s yield is protected and insured against any unintended and unforeseen circumstances.
Thus, it is safe to suggest that all necessary steps have been factored in, to ensure a robust, bumper and measured outcome at the end of the cropping season. As Kebbi State prides itself as the home of rice farming, the government has equally organised the large scale producers to benefit from similar initiative based on their requirements for essential equipment (power tillers, planters etc), inputs and financing.

Sahabi Augie is the Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kebbi State Branch. He writes this piece from Birnin Kebbi.

VERIFIED: It is now possible to live in Nigeria and earn salary in US Dollars with premium domains, you can earn as much as $12,000 (₦18 Million).
Click here to start.