The House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture has refuted a media report that it summoned the management of Bank of Agriculture(BOA), Kaduna over repayment of the N81 billion loan disbursed to farmers under the CBN Anchor Borrower Programme .
The chairman of the committee, Muntari Danduste, told Premium Times that the report is “false and misleading.”
Mr Danduste was reacting to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria which claimed that the committee had directed the bank management to submit all relevant documents related to the loan scheme to it for scrutiny.
“N81 billion can change the lives of Nigerian farmers in different value chains, so we cannot allow it go unrecovered, as this government is determined to ensure probity and transparency in all conduct,” Mr Danduste was quoted in the report to have said.
“The bank should appear before it along with all its documents of debtors, as well as those who have applied for loans and did not get,” he said.
In November 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the ABP to provide farm inputs in kind and cash to small-holder farmers (SHFs) to boost agricultural production and for the country to reverse its negative balance of payments on food.
Farmers captured under this programme include those cultivating cereals, cotton, roots and tubers, sugarcane, tree crops, legumes, tomato and livestock.
The loans are disbursed through any of the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs), all of which the programme recognises as Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs).
According to the guidelines of the programme, upon harvest, benefiting farmers are expected to repay their loans with harvested produce (which must cover the loan principal and interest) to an ‘anchor’ who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account.
The anchor could either be a private large-scale integrated processor or a state government. In the case of Kebbi, the state government is the anchor.
Upon kickoff, the programme got its takeoff grant from the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF). Farmers get loans at nine per cent interest rate. They are expected to repay based on the gestation period of their commodities.
Mr Danduste said his committee, which was recently inaugurated, was on an oversight visit to the BOA in the state in order to understand the workings of the agency.
He said the programme has impacted positively on the economy as evidenced by increased food production.
He told this newspaper that BOA has disbursed funds to 427,984 farmers and created two million jobs.
“Laudable as the programme has been, some Nigerians that have benefited from ABP have misconstrued it as one of the sharing of the national cake, thus crippling the programme, ” he said.
“The National Assembly frowns at this and will support the BOA to recover the disbursed loans, ” he said.