Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have urged more farmers to key into the different intervention programmes of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), especially the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme for small-scale individual and cooperative farmers to boost food production.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and various farmers’ associations, such as the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) and the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), have lamented the inability to access the interventions.
Paradoxically too, the CBN recently decried the low participation of the South-East in its economic intervention policies and programmes through a statement by the acting Director, Corporate Communications Department of the bank, Mr Osita Nwanisobi.
He had explained during CBN Fair in Enugu that the various intervention programmes were meant to create jobs, engender financial inclusion and make the people have access to finance, as well as boost food availability and security.
He said Nigerians should leverage the intervention programmes of the apex bank for a better living at a time when food inflation is becoming unbearable and unacceptable.
“This CBN Fair enables us to create awareness of all the policies and interventions of the bank and to talk to our people on how they can leverage the programmes.
“There is also the need for the state governments to leverage the Anchor Borrowers Programme to improve the lives of the people,” he said.
Nwanisobi said that the apex bank in its bid to engender inclusiveness started its Commodity Development Initiative with 10 commodities, he said, “but now, we are at about 22 commodities.”
“In choosing the commodities we intervene in, we look at the possible impacts and those that will help us to create quick wins.”
However, stakeholders explained what the CBN should do to expand the coverage, and how farmers and their associations should apply to secure the facilities.
Under the scheme, cereals such as maize, rice and wheat; cotton, roots and tubers like cassava; tree crops such as oil palm, cocoa, and rubber; livestock and poultry; tomato and leguminous crops such as soybeans, sesame seed, and cowpea are incorporated for farmers cultivating less than five hectares per person, especially through their associations or cooperatives.
When The Guardian spoke with some of the beneficiaries of the scheme, they explained steps they took and preparations expected of them before the facilities could be granted.
President of the Cassava Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Segun Adewumi, explained how the association was able to benefit from the scheme.
He said when applying, one of the priority crops such as rice, maize, cocoa, oil palm and soya beans must be the focus. And, 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.
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 be incorporated. Site inspection, equity of members and some other requirements would also be done and requested, Adewumi added.
Chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Oyo State chapter, Pa Samuel Akinade, also confirmed the procedures. He said through the national body of the association, applications were filed to the CBN’s Development Finance Department, and stakeholders were brought together, educated, assessed and empowered with inputs and loans for labour, among others.
“We have received support from the Federal Government’s ABP scheme and we are still receiving support.
“We have got inputs from the Anchor Borrower’s scheme handled by the Federal Government. We got inputs last year, not cash. And this year, we are compiling the list of farmers for the dry season farming of rice now. In the next two weeks, it will close,” he had told The Guardian in an interview.
The National President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Mr Adeola Adegoke, said after filing for loans and verification of members, farm locations and hectares were verified before farm inputs were distributed to 156 members of the association in Ibadan, Oyo State in 2020.
The cocoa farmers were given some herbicides, fungicide, insecticides and fertilisers on under the ABP.
The association said that the inputs would enable each beneficiary to boost cocoa productivity per hectare from the average of 350kgs to about 600kgs per hectare.
Adegoke said about 1,221 farmers in 10 cocoa-cultivating states in “Ondo, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Kwara, Ogun, Delta, Abia and Oyo” benefitted from the scheme.
A representative of Development Finance Office, CBN, Ibadan, Mr Adeola Adegbesan, said through the scheme, “They can improve their yield, leave subsistent farming and grow to become commercial farmers.’’