A Professor of Agriculture, Prof. Samson Remison, of the Department of Crop Science, Ambrose Alli University, (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, has lamented the inability of the smallholder farmers in Nigeria to access the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) interventions in the oil palm sector.
Remison made this known in his keynote address during the ongoing 2021 seed meeting, In-house Research Review and Annual South-South REFILLS workshop organised by the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Benin.
“The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the federal government was launched to provide seeds and cash to farmers to grow crops
The participating Banks working with CBN lends to Anchors at nine per cent per annum for onward disbursement to farmers.
“It appears CBN interventions in the oil sector are discriminatory.
“As CBN interventions were mostly targeted and focused on the big plantation owners with impressive cash flow and better ability to pay back the loans.
“So smallholder farmers are not able to access the interventions.
“CBN must understand the peculiarities in oil palm production, as it takes three to five years for it to mature.
“So CBN cannot afford to ask for loan repayment in three months as applicable to arable crops,” he said.
Remison added that there was a need to create a special financing scheme for the oil palm to enable smallholder farmers to have access to funds and improved technologies.
He explained that Nigeria’s contribution to the world oil palm industry stood at less than two per cent.
“Because over 70 per cent of oil palm production in the country was from smallholder farmers whose yield were low due to lack of access to credit facilities and improved technologies.
“Conscious efforts should be made to increase the production level of these smallholders as well as provide a conducive environment for investment by large scale investors,” he added.
Also speaking, The National President, Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN), Mr Joe Onyiuke said the association was working assiduously towards ensuring that farmers were bankable and eligible to access support from the CBN.
Onyiuke noted that Africa’s poorest households were in rural areas adding that smallholder agriculture remained essential for lifting large numbers of Nigerians out of poverty and hunger.
“We have also come to the point where input supplies and extension services are now guaranteed to our farmers.
“As an association, we have also secured off-takers and created a market for our farmers.
“We have also signed up with an Insurance company to insure members farms across the country in order to mitigate the losses that occur as a result of incessant bush burning.
According to him, agriculture is undoubtedly the largest contributor to Nigeria gross domestic product (GDP) and a main source of employment.
He called on NIFOR to expand and include Smallholder farmers in training in the areas of mechanisation, harvest, milling and storage systems to promote sustainable development.
He said” this is important because smallholder farmers are responsible for a good percentage of the national palm oil production,” he added.
Source: Daily Independent