LAGOS – Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have shared their experiences on how each of them and their associations have benefitted from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchors Borrowers Programme.
The farmers pointed out that lack of finance and absence of off-taking arrangements that guarantee price stability and assured markets have been the greatest challenges of farmers in the past.
When DAILY INDEPENDENT sought the opinion of these farmers who have benefitted from these finance and market scheme, they are of the opinion that their testimonies would serve as a guide to other aspiring or existing farmers who need facilities for small-scale farming and food processing in the country as some farmers associations have lamented that despite their efforts they are unable to access the programme.
The stakeholders said one of the main challenge is for one to belong to a recognised farmer association for easy coordination and that applications would be made to the Anchor Borrower’s Programme in the Development Finance Department of the CBN.
Adeola Adegoke, National President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CFAN), explained that after filing for loans and verification of members, farm locations and hectares would be verified before farm inputs would be distributed to beneficiaries.
He said that was what was done to the 156 members of the association that benefited under the scheme in Ibadan, Oyo State last year.
He added that about 1,221 farmers in 10 states cultivating cocoa benefitted from the programme.
He listed the states to be, “Ondo, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Kwara, Ogun, Delta, Abia and Oyo.
Adegoke stated that the farmers were given some herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and fertilisers under the Programme.
He added that the inputs would enable each beneficiary to boost cocoa productivity per hectare from the average of 350kgs to about 600kgs per hectare.
Segun Adewumi, National President of the Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria (NCGA), said that the association benefitted from the scheme and that it has been very good to the farmers.
He said the association succeeded in taking the loan for farmers in the association, stressing that applications would be made to the Anchor Borrower’s Programme in the Development Finance Department of the CBN in any state branch of the apex bank.
Adewumi said the association has two models which are five hectares for a farmer which is called five stars that is targeted at industrial processing factories while the other one is for the food security which is one hectare for one farmer.
He said all the models are working simultaneously and farmers are doing well.
Speaking further he said from the Department , others conditions such as details of members of the association, presence of off-takers for the products, participating financial institutions and insurance would be incorporated.
He said that site inspection, equity of members and some other requirements would also be requested and done.
Pa Akinlade Samuel, Chairman Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Oyo state chapter said any farmer that wants to access the CBN’s ABP must belong to a recognised association for instance RIFAN.
He also stated that applications will be filled to the CBN’s Development Finance Department.
He said the planning would come from the association, and that the association must have their headquarters in Abuja, stressing that the association would liaise with the CBN, while the apex bank will link them to banks.
He added that the farmers have gotten inputs from the scheme and that this year; the association is compiling the list of farmers for the dry season farming of rice.
“If anybody in rice joins us today if we are collecting it already we are going to add his name to the list so far he has the land and he knows how to plant the rice, cassava, cotton or any commodities,” he said.
Dr. Bello Abubakar, National President, Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) while assessing the impact of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), pointed out that the project had assisted smallholder maize farmers to boost quality production as well as lead a sustainable life.
On loan repayment by farmers, Abubakar, appealed to his colleagues to cultivate the habit of repaying their loans in order to ensure the success of the ABP.
According to him: “The success of the Anchor Borrower’s Programme lies in our conduct as maize farmers, we therefore, need to be optimistic in our thoughts and in repaying our loans as at when due for the survival of the programme”
Dr. Oluwasina Olabanji, Coordinator of the wheat seed multiplication by CBN-through the ABP said that any Nigerian who is interested in Agriculture and has financial muscle could be an Anchor.
“An Anchor must have a registered Company duly registered with CAC. He or She must open a bank account with any PFIs of his or her choice. Register his or her out grower farmers on the CBN/ PFIs porter and the out growers must have bank accounts with BVN.
“In addition to qualify as an Anchor you must have at least 200 hectares of land to cultivate and collateral to serve as security for the loan to be obtained from CBN through the chosen PFIs.
He added that the interest on the loan is single digit between five and nine percent.
‘Wheat Value Chain Accounts for Over 10.5 Million Jobs Generated Annually’
The Nigeria wheat value chain has been said to account for over 10.5 million jobs generated annually.
The development, according to Ashish Pande, Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill, a subsidiary of Olam Nigeria, has placed the wheat value chain at the centre of the various economic development agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Pande disclosed this when a senior management team from the firm paid Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, a courtesy visit in Abuja.
Pande, who was represented by Damilola Adeniyi, Corporate Affairs Manager, Olam Nigeria, re-echoed the firm’s promise to continue to collaborate with other stakeholders within the local wheat value chain in sustaining the socio-economic value proposition of the sector.
He explained that the rising consumption of wheat derivative foods in the country has stimulated further job opportunities at the production, processing, distribution, warehousing and retailing levels of the wheat value chain.
Adeniyi led a delegation that included Alhaji Moshood Quadri, Head, Human Resources, Datti Danjuma, General Manager, Human Resources, Ms. Rauda Musa Umar, Wheat Development Programme Officer, all of Crown Flour Mill.
He explained that the flour millers continue to take bold developmental steps through scaled investments in critical areas including seed trial and research, training of smallholder wheat farmers and funding of the various farming research institutes in the country to ensure that the current local production level of the wheat crop improves significantly.
“While these efforts have ensured that we keep providing affordable and quality food for the growing Nigerian population, they have also helped to increase the number of jobs being created for the active segment of the population.
“Overall, the investment efforts, which extend to capacity building initiatives for bakers, are beginning to yield positive results.”
Speaking further on the importance of the local wheat value chain, Pande said that while prices of other major national staple foods such as rice, garri, yam and beans have risen sharply by 3.2 per cent, 6 percent, 5.3 percent and 13.4 percent respectively, in the past months, the prices of wheat derivative foods have been largely cushioned from the inflationary trend by local millers and bakers who continuously absorb the extra cost of production to keep feeding the population.
The CFM boss thereby solicited the backing of the Minister of Labour and Employment to ensure that millers continue to deliver on their employment generating potential.
“If the current wheat value chain developmental drive is sustained, it would help secure the jobs of many Nigerians while ensuring that more homes continue to gain access to affordable quality wheat derivative foods such as semolina, bread, noodles and pasta.”
In his response Ngige lauded CFM and the other millers for their economic development drives.
“The Ministry of Labour and Employment is committed to supporting efforts that are geared towards providing good jobs for Nigerians and ultimately growing the economy.”
He expressed his delight over the extensive investments that the Olam group has made and continues to make in food and agricultural value chain stating that, “The level of investment presently being channeled into developing the value chain is of paramount importance to help reduce the level of unemployment and underemployment in the economy.”
“Sustaining and scaling the current level of developmental projects in the value chain is key to keeping Nigerians gainfully employed and well-nourished.
“At the Ministry of Labour and Employment, we will continue to support your drive as a critical partner in achieving national economic prosperity through expanded local production that can deliver more employment opportunities for the teeming Nigerian population,” he added.