Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja
In the last two years of the implementation of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, a total of N55bn has been disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to over 250,000 farmers under the scheme.
The Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Isaac Okorafor, confirmed the figure on Wednesday in Abuja during a media briefing on the implementation of the programme.
The ABP was launched in Kebbi State on November 17, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was designed to create economic linkages between farmers and processors, not only to ensure increased agricultural output of rice and wheat, but also to close the gap between production and consumption.
The CBN had set aside N40bn out of the N220bn Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund to be given to farmers at a single, digit interest rate of nine per cent per annum.
Under the scheme, smallholder farmers are entitled to loans ranging from N150,000 to N250,000 to assist them in procuring necessary agricultural inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers and pesticides, to help boost agricultural outputs and productivity.
Okorafor was accompanied to the briefing by the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor, Mr. Olatunde Akande, and top executive officers of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria led by the National President, Alhaji Aminu Gorongo.
The apex bank spokesperson said out of the N55bn provided for the farmers, 80 per cent or N44bn was given to rice farmers alone.
He stated that the need to provide rice farmers with adequate funding was to ensure self-sufficiency in the production of the commodity and to also ensure that Nigeria becomes a net exporter of the product.
Okorafor said, “Out of the N55bn that we have spent on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, about 80 per cent has gone into rice production; and if you work out that maths, you will see that the multiplier effect of that money has been so great.
“It also goes to underscore the effectiveness and efficiency that the CBN has put into this programme. We have about 250,000, who have also cultivated close to 300,000 hectares of farmland, and you can see the impact on the street.”
The RIFAN president said that unlike in the past when the ABP partnership was between the CBN and state governments, a private sector-driven initiative had been launched to drive the programme.
He stated that under the programme, partnership between the CBN, RIFAN and 200,000 farmers would be given fresh funds to plant rice in the dry farming season and another 500,000 farmers in the wet farming season.
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