Dr. Manzo Daniel Maigari is the Kaduna State Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development. In this interview in Kaduna recently, he highlighted some of the challenges and achievements of the federal government-initiated Anchor Borrowers Programme in the state. Excerpts:
How compliant have the farmers been in remitting farm produce in the anchor programme?
Farmers have not been up to date in remitting farm produce as part of the terms and condition for the programme. The wet season Anchor Borrowers Programme covered the rainy season farming programme and we were able to capture about 12,000 farmers across three crops including maize rice and soya beans with a total of about N4 billion.
Is there a time schedule for farmers to pay back?
You know it was for wet season farming. It is expected that when they harvest, they will surrender the produce to the off-takers. So far, some off-takers have started aggregating their produce though we have some farmers that are trying to play smart; we have some farmers that are reluctant to release the produce, bringing one excuse or the other. No excuse is good enough because, farmers sign MoUs with the off-takers, they also sign MoUs with their banks, inputs were given to them, money for labour was given to them, so there is no excuse.
Is there consideration for farmers who faced one challenge or the other, like maize farms ravaged by worms?
Wherever there are challenges, the Nigerian Agricultural Enterprise Curriculum (NAEC) is there, they have visited farms where farmers claimed to have had challenges. It is NAEC that will decide whether a farm truly has challenges or not.
What measures are the state governments making with regards to foreigners taking away harvest of farmers?
We raised the alarm, but it does not fall under our jurisdiction so the only thing we could do is to alert the federal government on what is happening and they assured that something will be done. The federal government has also put in place a mop up regime of grains so that they can be released into strategic grain reserves and stored until there is scarcity.
What are some major challenges and achievements of the programme?
The greatest challenge encountered was the withdrawal of the commercial banks from the programme. At the onset, we had about 63,000 farmers who were captured under the programme, then on the eve of the launch of the programme, these commercial banks opted out because they felt they were not going to make enough profit, leaving us with no option but to migrate our farmers back to the Bank of Agriculture. Only Heritage and Sterling banks stayed on the programme, and the total number of farmers between the two banks was not up to 1,000 because the bulk of the farmers were with First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and other banks that just opted out and left us.
Another challenge was the issue of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) because most of the farmers are in the bush and do not have bank accounts. Another challenge we had is the issue of the farm size the farmer will tell you he has. A farmer will tell you he has 10 hectares of land, but when the land is measure in reality, he has less than a hectare.