The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has urged farmers to repay their loans in order to sustain the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, made the plea while unveiling the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and flag-off of the 2021 wet season input distribution in the South-West geo-political zone in Ekiti State on Tuesday.
The CBN governor explained that under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, every farmer with a good repayment record would be eligible to get a solar home system that will provide electricity to power their essential home appliances.
He explained that the CBN will develop a repayment framework that will allow farmers to use their farm produce as repayment for the electricity consumed by the beneficiaries of the scheme.
He expressed hope that the incentive would improve the standard of living of farmers in Nigeria, motivate prompt loan repayment and ultimately enhance the sustainability of the programme.
“Loan repayment is the hallmark of every credit cycle and the sustainability of the programme is hinged on farmers’ ability and willingness to repay their loans, and we are constantly engaging with them to enhance their trust in the system,” he said.
Mr Emefiele explained further that over 3.1 million farmers have been financed for the cultivation of crops across twenty-one agricultural commodities captured under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) since inception.
“A total of 3,107,890 farmers had been financed for the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, from the inception of the programme till date,” Mr Emefiele said.
He added that under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, the bank also financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 States.
As part of efforts to boost food production locally, Mr Emefiele noted that the CBN planned to cultivate a minimum of one million hectares of rice through partnership with farmers of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and prime or private anchors for each planting season in 2021.
While also unveiling aggressive production plans for maize, wheat, soybeans, cassava, sorghum and cassava, he explained that the bank’s backward integration drive with rice millers was also gaining momentum as the CBN intends to finance millers to grow their own paddy during the current wet season.
The CBN boss reiterated the need to ensure the integration of Nigerian farmers into the Government’s Economic Sustainability Programme aimed at providing five million homes with electricity using solar energy.
Anchor Borrowers Programme
In November 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the ABP to boost agricultural production and reverse Nigeria’s negative balance of payments on food.
Farmers captured under this programme include those cultivating cereals (rice, maize, wheat etc.) cotton, roots and tubers, sugarcane, tree crops, legumes, tomato and livestock.
Loans are disbursed to the beneficiary farmers through Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs), which the programme recognises as Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs).
Meanwhile, the CBN boss stated that there is a need for more private sector investment in the agricultural value chain, adding that significant improvements in domestic production of staple food items, would help in attaining the country’s price stability goals while reducing its dependence on imported food items.
Mr Emefiele also deunked claims suggesting that the Bank’s targeted interventions in the agricultural sector are tilted in favour of a certain section of the country.
According to him, contrary to views held by some individuals and interest groups, the Bank’s interventions in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) were not only about rice production but had expanded to over 21 crops and were evenly spread across the country.
He disclosed that more than N300 billion had been disbursed to companies operating in the southern part of Nigeria, citing companies and farmers across Lagos, Edo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River as major beneficiaries of the Bank’s interventions.
While acknowledging the current challenges in attaining food security in Nigeria, he said synergy among stakeholders will surely catalyse the growth process, assuring that the CBN stood ready to offer effective partnership to deliver on this critical national mandate of attaining self-sufficiency in food production.
He also enjoined Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture, adding that “they have the talent, energy, enthusiasm, technological adoption capacity and all the right drive to revolutionize agricultural production in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Bagudu, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, said the rice pyramids unveiled in Ekiti underscored the clarion call by Mr Buhari for Nigeria to “produce what we eat and eat what we produce”.
He commended the Ekiti State Governor for keying into the rice revolution, noting that each state in Nigeria has the capacity to produce rice, hence the need for states to compete to develop their respective potential.
Mr Bagudu said over fifty new rice mills had come on board in Nigeria, signaling that Nigeria was drawing closer to its quest for self-sufficiency in food production.
“The recently released data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), indicating a downward trend in inflation, was indicative of the strong performance of the agricultural sector,” he said.
In his remarks, the host governor, Kayode Fayemi, noted that the support from Mr Buhari for local rice production, through the CBN’s ABP initiative, had contributed largely to the investments in agriculture, which in turn had contributed to increased rice production and reduction in rice importation.