‘Anchor borrower fund not for defaulting farmers’
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has restated its resolve not to fund defaulting farmers under its pet-project- Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
The initiative, scripted to rev up food production in the country as opposed imports, has already disbursed over N56 billion involving more than 250,000 farmers across the country, with more than two-third of the state governments participating.
The apex bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor, made the disclosure while reacting to what he described as “cheap blackmail” by a group of farmers in Kaduna.
He said that the allegations of the Kaduna State Coordinator of FEHDON Seed, Abdulrahman Ali Musa, was a cover for non-payment of funds accessed in 2016 by the cooperative group.
Musa, had alleged that despite fulfilling all the necessary requirements needed to access the Anchor Borrowers fund farmers in the state were denied of the intervention.
The group also alleged that CBN has diverted the anchor fund into somewhere else to get interest from it, thereby making the bank unable to disburse the money to the farmers on time.
They farmers also complained bitterly about the rigorous processes involved in getting screened to access the fund and the farming inputs, claiming that such processes where deliberately institutionalised to render the programme unsuccessful.
Okorafor said the project for they were complaining about was facilitated by the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing and Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), not CBN and have been sponsoring similar blackmails.
“FEDON is one of the prospective off-takers that expressed interest to participate in the ABP under NIRSAL. Meetings have been held with all the prospective anchors and off-takers, where the issues affecting the projects on maize and rice were determined.
“The BVN of the farmers were validated by NIBSS and the indebted farmers were highlighted in red and forwarded to NIRSAL. The Office conducted Farmer/Farm verification.
“As at June 14, 2018, NIRSAL staff said they were still sorting out issue of insurance with their Head Office. The CBN has no direct role in the alleged delay of disbursement as all documents submitted by the PFI (NIRSAL) were promptly attended to,” he said.
He reiterated that the whole issue is basically about farmers who have failed to pay back their loans, but use the media to blackmail and arm-twist NIRSAL to give them additional funds.
“The so-called spokesman of the cooperatives is one of those who have failed to pay back their loans in accordance with the guidelines.
“Only those farmers and cooperatives who pay back their loans and comply with the guidelines will get additional funding. No amount of sponsored negative media reports and blackmail will help their case,” he added.
Okorafor advised that they pay up their loans, comply with the guidelines and agreements and go ahead with their projects, while they should learn from successful ones in other states.