The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has so far disbursed N43.92 billion to local farmers through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, an agricultural intervention programme of CBN.
The acting Director of Corporate Communication of CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, disclosed this at CBN Special Day at the 12th Abuja International Trade Fair in Abuja on Wednesday.
CBN, in line with its mandate established the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
The programme, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 17, 2015, was intended to create linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
The programme thrust of the ABP is provision of farm inputs, in kind and cash, for farm labour to small holder farmers to boost production of rice, wheat and maize.
Others are; cotton, soya beans, poultry, cassava and groundnuts in addition to fish farming.
The programme is also meant to stabilise inputs supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.
At harvest, the small holder farmer supplies his or her produce to the Agro-processor, who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account.
Okorafor said that the programme was done in association with 13 participating financial institutions with over 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states.
He said also that through the ABP, 233,000 hectares of farmland were currently being cultivated with eight commodities, such rice, rice, wheat and maize among others.
“We cannot let our farmers go hungry while we enrich farmers from other countries.
“This is why we said for some certain items which are 41 in number, if you want to import them go and look for your own foreign exchange.
“As a complimentary measure, we put in place the Anchor Borrowers Programme for agriculture to make farmers rise,fill the space and gap created by the non-importation of those items.
“The programme has given us over two million tonnes of rice when our national demand is at about six million tonnes.
‘’This has taken our national output to about four million tonnes in the first year.
“We are very hopeful that we will further add at least another two million tonnes of rice this year that will take us up to six million tonnes.
“We are envisaging that by this time next year, Nigeria should be self-sufficient in rice production,” he said.
Okorafor said that to further position the economy on the path of sufficiency through non-oil exports and conserve foreign exchange, the apex bank had 17 intervention programmes running.
The intervention programmes he said were; the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme fund, N200 billion Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, N200 billion SME Restructuring and Refinancing Facility, the N300 billion power and airline intervention fund.
Others, according to him, are the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility, Export Re-discounting and Re-financing Facility, Export Stimulation Facility and Paddy Aggregation Scheme among others.
Okorafor reiterated the bank’s commitment to continually reel out proactive policies and schemes to ensure that the Nigerian economy remaine strong and sufficient, through non-oil exports.
He also urged members of the public to come forward with their complaints if they felt short changed by their banks.
Okoroafor said that in the last three years, the Consumer Protection Department of CBN had helped to get back about N50 billion of bank customers monies, who complained of excess or illegal charges by their banks.
Also at the occasion, the Second Deputy President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ABUCCIMA), Alhaji Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, urged CBN to reconsider some of its policy stands, adding that they negatively impacted on small businesses.
“While we commend the CBN for its roles in getting our economy out of recession, we want to emphasise that the subsisting high lending rate is stifling production and productivity of the real sector.
“The Micro Small and Medium Entreprises (MSMEs) have been on the receiving end of this.
“We, therefore, urge the CBN to reconsider its policy stand in this regard,” Abubakar said.