‘ABP scheme partnerships with private, public actors will boost food’

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[FILES] Food vendors at a market.

Private sector operators in the agricultural sector have urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to expand partnerships beyond farmers’ associations and state governments to individuals and corporate farmers to maximise food production, storage, value addition, availability and exports.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, inaugurating the 2021 wet season input distribution in the South-West geopolitical zone under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme recently, said the financial regulatory bank was ready for effective partnerships to deliver part of its mandate of attaining food self-sufficiency.

Emefiele had said: “Nigerian youths should embrace agriculture, as they have the talent, energy, enthusiasm, technological adoption capacity and all the right drive to revolutionise agricultural production in Nigeria.

“We must meet them halfway to ensure that we provide the enabling environment to make agriculture attractive to them. The Central Bank of Nigeria stands ready to support youths that are willing to engage in agriculture.”

In furtherance of the partnership to increase cotton production and revive the textile industry in the country, the CBN and Prime Anchor are in collaboration with Ogun State on the cultivation of cotton on 4,500 hectares of land.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Ogun State governor, Kunle Somorin, recently, saying the farmland, located in Aworo-Pedepo in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state, was a follow up to the 10,000 hectares earlier provided to the Cotton Growers Association of Nigeria in the state.

Somorin explained that apart from the partnership with the CBN, which, according to him, would provide the needed fund to the growers, the state government had also entered into synergy with Prime Anchor to link cotton producers to the industrial processors, especially the Joint Cotton Growers Association of Nigeria and Gateway Cotton Processing Limited, in which Ogun owns 20 per cent share.

Similarly, in partnership with the apex bank, Unity Bank Plc has promised additional funding to no fewer than 120,000 smallholder maize farmers in Nigeria in the 2021 wet season farming in Nigeria.

The Managing Director of the bank, Tomi Somefun, disclosed this while delivering a goodwill message at the unveiling of the first national maize pyramids and flag-off of wet season farming programmes held in Katsina recently.

Through the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the bank was invited to participate in the events marking the unveiling by the Maize Association of Nigeria, MAAN.

Somefun stated that the strategic partnership with MAAN commenced in 2019 with the financing of about 37,182 smallholder farmers, with the bank increasing its financing tally to 70,604 smallholder farmers in 2020.

She said: “Unity Bank is fully committed to its partnership with MAAN and this commitment will ensure the attainment of FGN/CBN target to meeting self-sufficiency in Maize production through the Association.”

Recently, the National President of MAAN, Dr. Abubakar Bello, commended the bank for its continued support of the farmers through its strategic role in providing the necessary financing to the maize farmers.

He said: “We cannot appreciate enough our financing partners, especially Unity Bank. Today we have over 50,000 bags of maize in this pyramid, which will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s strategic grain reserves.”

He restated the commitment of the association to continue to meet the financing obligations and sustain the drive for increased maize output in the 2021 wet season farming.

In the same vein, Adeola Adegoke, President of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), said partnership of the bank with the association had facilitated N592,332 to each farmer in cash and inputs for maintaining about three hectares of existing cocoa plantations.

Total amount given to 1,221 participating cocoa farmers in 10 producing states in the 2020 season was over N723,237,372 million in the first batch.

Adegoke said each of the participating states would flag off the distribution of the inputs, such as pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, among others, adding that N197,444 per hectare is allocated per hectare, and three hectares are calculated for each farmer, through the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme.

According to him, the participating states are Ondo State (365 cocoa farmers); Edo State (214 farmers); Cross River (74 farmers) Ekiti State (38 farmers); Osun State (193); Kwara State (43); Ogun State (118); Oyo State (156); Delta State (17) and Abia State (4).

The bank has also recognised Ogun as a focal state in its cocoa development initiative.

Ogun State’s recognition came as a result of the strides at ensuring food sufficiency, industrialisation and economic development through agriculture.

Mrs. Yemisi Olukoya, the representative of the bank, disclosed at a stakeholder meeting for the cocoa development initiative organised by the state government in partnership with the CBN at the OgunTech Hub, Itoki-Elewe village.

Speaking in an interview, the chairman of the Cocoa Farmers Association (CFAN) in the state, Solomon Taiwo Williams, appreciated the government for such a laudable initiative, maintaining that the long-term challenge of land allocation, would be met.

Aslo, CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, said various interventions and partnerships with public and private sector actors were geared towards supporting the government’s quest to diversify the economy.

He disclosed this during an interview at a two-day fair in Lagos.

“If, as a nation, we cannot feed ourselves, then there is a major problem. Once we don’t have food security in this nation, it becomes a problem. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, we saw countries imposing some forms of export restrictions and you began to wonder that if we didn’t champion the rice revolution in Nigeria, what would have happened?

“We keep rolling out these interventions because of what I call the failure of the market. If you allow the market to determine credit allocation, certain sectors such as agriculture, SMEs, may suffer and that was why the central bank stepped in,” he stated.

However, despite various interventions, some farmers, under the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN) and the Poultry Association (PAN), have lamented the inability to access facilities from the schemes.





Source: The Guardian

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