More partnership with private, state govts advocated
Stakeholders are advocating for a system in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that will ensure that individual farmers have direct access to financial interventions.
This, many of the stakeholders believe, will go a long way to help in addressing the current food crisis the country is facing.
The apex bank, had since 2015, through its Anchor Borrower Programme, disbursed several millions of naira to farmers’ groups to boost, among other crops, rice, cocoa and maize production.
But critics of the initiative say in most cases, only political farmers benefitted from the interventions, which development, they opined, partly responsible for the current high prices of food items in the country.
Now, watchers in the system are calling on the apex bank to rework its policy on the beneficiaries in order to accommodate more real farmers in the package to boost more production.
They are also calling on the apex bank to build greater cooperation with the private sector and state governments toward boosting agriculture in the country.
Isiaku Adamu, an agric economist, observed that for any financial intervention to get to the intended target, private farmers, especially those in the rural communities, must be targeted.
“I understand that the apex bank must include realistic ways of recovering its loans but honestly there is no intervention that will succeed without inputs from rural farmers.
“We must commend the CBN for its efforts so far; it has done well but there should be a deliberate attempt to capture ordinary individual farmers if there must be sincere efforts to arrest the current price crisis,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabiru Ibrahim, commended the apex bank’s interventions but urged it to beam its searchlight on the allegations that political farmers were the major beneficiaries of the previous programme.
“The farmers really appreciate the apex bank for its various interventions but we appeal they come up with a system that will involve private farmers in the rural areas,” he urged.
On the repayment process, the farmers’ leader said the apex bank must ensure that only real farmers have access to its interventions, adding that a robust insurance policy must also be put in place to mitigate natural disasters.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, recently inaugurated the 2021 wet season input distribution in the South-West geopolitical zone under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, saying the financial regulatory bank was ready for effective partnerships to deliver part of its mandate of attaining food self-sufficiency.
Emefiele said: “Nigerian youths should embrace agriculture, as they have the talent, energy, enthusiasm, technological adoption capacity and all the right drive to revolutionise agricultural production in Nigeria.
“We must meet them halfway to ensure that we provide the enabling environment to make agriculture attractive to them. The Central Bank of Nigeria stands ready to support youths that are willing to engage in agriculture.”
Also, CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, said the various interventions and partnerships with public and private sector actors were geared towards supporting the government’s quest to diversify the economy.
He disclosed this during an interview at a two-day fair in Lagos.
“If, as a nation, we cannot feed ourselves, then there is a major problem. Once we don’t have food security in this nation, it becomes a problem. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, we saw countries imposing some forms of export restrictions and you began to wonder that if we didn’t champion the rice revolution in Nigeria; what would have happened?
“We keep rolling out these interventions because of what I call the failure of the market. If you allow the market to determine credit allocation, certain sectors such as agriculture, SMEs, may suffer and that was why the central bank stepped in,” he stated.
The National President of Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Dr. Abubakar Bello, commended the apex bank for its continued support for farmers through its strategic role in providing the necessary financing to maize farmers.
He said: “We cannot appreciate enough our financing partners, especially Unity Bank. Today, we have over 50,000 bags of maize in our pyramid, which will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s strategic grain reserves.”
He restated the commitment of the association to continue to meet the financing obligations and sustain the drive for increased maize output in the 2021 wet season farming.
Adeola Adegoke, President of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), said the partnership of the bank and the association facilitated N592,332 to each farmer in cash and inputs for maintaining about three hectares of existing cocoa plantations.
The total amount given to 1,221 participating cocoa farmers in 10 producing states in the 2020 season was over N723,237,372 million in the first batch.
Adegoke said each of the participating states would flag off the distribution of the inputs, such as pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, among others, adding that N197,444 is allocated per hectare, and three hectares are calculated for each farmer, through the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme.
According to him, the participating states are Ondo State (365 cocoa farmers); Edo State (214 farmers); Cross River (74 farmers) Ekiti State (38 farmers); Osun State (193); Kwara State (43); Ogun State (118); Oyo State (156); Delta State (17) and Abia State (4).