Farmers in the country have appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to expand its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme after completing its ongoing sanitation exercise of the scheme.
The Programme, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.
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Cross section of the farmers, who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday, particularly commended various interventions of the apex bank, especially in rice, maize, cocoa, oil palm, poultry, and cassava production.
However, the recent suspension of scheme being managed by the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has created fears among the farmers, who are now calling on the apex bank to expedite action in resuming the scheme.
Sources within the CBN said the suspension was to correct some anomalies in order to strengthen the scheme for more real farmers to benefit.
CBN says over N554bn spent so far
Earlier, the bank claimed it had disbursed N554.61bn to 2,849,490 farmers to boost food security under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) beginning from 2015.
Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, had explained that out of the amount, N61.02bn was disbursed to 353,370 dry season farmers.
“Of the CBN’s real sector interventions, under the ABP, N554.63bn was disbursed to 2,849,490 beneficiaries in 2015, of which N61.02bn was allocated to 359,370 dry season farmers. Indeed, total disbursements as of January 2021 amounted to N2trn.
“We have also disbursed N106.96bn to 27,956 beneficiaries under the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme,” Emefiele said.
Arc Kabir Ibrahim, president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, while applauding the CBN’s efforts in deepening food production in the country, asked for expansion of the scheme across more crops and the geo-political zones.
He said many farmers producing rice, maize, cocoa, oil palm, poultry and cassava have benefitted from the scheme.
He recalled that recently maize and other major poultry and livestock feedstocks have constituted a challenge to the industry, forcing the prices of feeds to go up.
This, he said, had made commercial poultry a very difficult venture for thousands of small-scale farmers.
Our correspondent reports that during the peak of the crisis last year, the bank and some partners released 50,000 metric tonnes of maize to the poultry and feed mill industries as part of 300,000 tonnes planned to be injected into the system through the strategic grain reserves.
At the time, Dr Opeyemi Agbato of the Animal Care and PRO for the Ogun State chapter of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) said the direct allocation and release of maize to key feed millers was a much-needed intervention.
They agreed that if the backward integration in maize investments had not been emplaced by the scheme, it would have been impossible to intervene at a critical period of maize shortage.
Pumps N25bn into cassava value chain
On cassava value chain, the apex bank said it has boosted cassava production and value chain with N25bn with a view to curtailing the $600m spent yearly to import cassava derivatives. Such derivatives include food-grade starch, sweetener, syrup for pharmaceuticals, and ethanol.
Senior Manager, Department of Development Finance CBN, Dr Chinedu Zephaniah, who disclosed this, said under the five-star agricultural financing programme, the bank was spending about N25bn to fund cassava this year alone.
“And we intend to fund only contiguous plan in Kogi, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ekiti, and the Ondo States.”
On maize, the National President of Maize Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Bello Abubakar, applauded the CBN intervention in maize production, saying such intervention had boosted maize production in the country.
Although he noted that insecurity had hindered the efforts of the maize farmers, the existence of the scheme has kept some farmers going till now.
A renowned maize farmer in Sabo-Wuse, a community in Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Isa, said many farmers, who benefitted from the programme, increased their production, from where locals now get the grains.
He pleaded with the apex bank to capture more farmers in the rural areas, where real production is taking place.