Farmers demand more as CBN announces N554bn spending on Anchor Borrowers scheme
• ‘56,000 cassava farmers got inputs in 2020, to get N40b 2021’
• Expand operations in southern states, farmers urge CBN
Farmers and their association have called on the Federal Government to use the Central Bank of Nigeria-managed Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to deepen food production in the southern states amid insecurity in the north.
They made the call while commending various interventions of the CBN across the country, especially in rice, maize, cocoa, oil palm, poultry, and cassava production.
As of January 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) claimed it had disbursed N554.61 billion to 2,849,490 farmers to boost food security under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) beginning from 2015.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, had earlier explained that out of the amount, N61.02 billion was disbursed to 353,370 dry season farmers.
“Of the CBN’s real sector interventions, under the ABP, N554.63 billion was disbursed to 2,849,490 beneficiaries in 2015, of which N61.02 billion was allocated to 359,370 dry season farmers. Indeed, total disbursements as of January 2021 amounted to N2 trillion.
“We have also disbursed N106.96 billion to 27,956 beneficiaries under the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme,’’ Emefiele said.
The ABP scheme was introduced by President Buhari in 2015 in furtherance of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the Goodluck Jonathan administration that places emphasis on value chain development as a panacea for undulating cycles of crop production as farmers suffered from gluts.
Inaugurating the scheme in 2015 during the dry season farming in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State, Buhari, through the CBN, rejected N1 trillion food importation bill as unsustainable and untenable.
Poultry value chain
Recently, the bank and some partners released 50,000 metric tonnes of maize to the poultry and feed mill industries as part of 300,000 tonnes planned to inject into the system through the strategic grain reserves.
Maize and other major poultry and livestock feedstocks have constituted a challenge to the industry, forcing up prices of feeds and sources of protein, and making commercial poultry a very difficult venture for thousands of small-scale farmers.
Reacting to the intervention, Ayodeji Balogun, Managing Director of AFEX, had explained that by facilitating the release of the 50,000 tonnes of maize, leveraging support from credible players in the ecosystem, including the team at AFEX, the CBN would offer over 35,000 farmers and agro-processors a channel through which they could trade maize at a subsidised rate, and thereby reduce the adverse effect of the maize price hike, increase local demand, and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
His counterpart in Animal Care, Dr Opeyemi Agbato, and PRO for the Ogun State chapter of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) had said the direct allocation and release of maize to key feed millers was a much-needed intervention.
They agreed that if the backward integration in maize investments had not been emplaced by the scheme, it would have been impossible to intervene at a critical period of maize shortage. They also called for more coordinated investments in the local production of grains, especially in secure areas of the country.
Cassava cultivation and value chain
In the 2020/2021 season, the CBN said it boosted cassava production and value chain with N25 billion with a view to curtailing the $600 million spent yearly to import cassava derivatives. Such derivatives include food-grade starch, sweetener, syrup for pharmaceuticals, and ethanol.
The intervention was disclosed by Senior Manager, Department of Development Finance, CBN, Dr Chinedu Zephaniah, to curb $600 million worth of yearly importation.
He had said: “So under the five-star agricultural financing programme, the bank is spending about N25 billion to fund cassava this year alone.
“And we intend to fund only contiguous plan in Kogi, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ekiti, and the Ondo States.”
He explained that the ‘Five-Star Cassava Farmers’ concept was aimed at empowering farmers who had been servicing their loans with more facilities to cultivate five hectares of cassava.
While affirming the intervention on inquiries from The Guardian, the National President of the Cassava Growers’ Association of Nigeria, Mr Segun Adewumi, explained that the association had benefited from the ABP scheme through the cassava value chain intervention.
He said there are two programmes. One is one hectare per farmer and the other, called a five-star scheme, involves five hectares of land per farmer. Members of the association have benefited from the two, Adewumi admitted.
“The CBN provided N25 billion worth of inputs to 56,000 cassava farmers last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic and elongated drought prevented members from cultivating cassava as expected in 2020.
“We are rolling it over into this year, and land clearing and preparation are going on. Soon, we will begin planting.”
Adewumi hinted that 200,000 cassava farmers are registered under the association, but only 56,000 were beneficiaries last year. For the 2021 scheme, he said the apex bank, through the ABP scheme, has earmarked N40 billion for members of the association.
He said cassava had become a golden crop as food and industrial demands for it grow beyond the supply capacity.
A tonne of cassava, he disclosed, which was sold at about N16,000 some years ago, has multiplied and now costs at N70,000, presenting opportunities for farmers to really expand operations with the CBN funding. Though the cost of production has gone up, the rising demand for industrial usage amid restriction of forex for import of derivatives presents great opportunities for farmers.
Also, in October 2020, using the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Ogun State, and Wema Bank, the Anchor Borrowers Programme linked the third batch of 1,065 young cassava farmers to credits amounting to N234,590,745 (N220,273 per farmer) across 20 local government areas of the state.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, said: “These farmers have also been linked to inputs (herbicides, agrochemicals, and improved planting materials), and guaranteed markets.
“This third batch release was for young people, whom Prince Abiodun had approved land clearing for in nine (9) locations namely: Apojola, Odeda LGA; Asa, Ewekoro LGA; Ojoowo/Ijebu Igbo, Ijebu North LGA; Omogbawojo, Odogbolu LGA; Pagbonrin, Imeko-Afon LGA; Itoro, Yewa South LGA; Ojere Village, Obafemi Owode LGA; Ikenne Dairy Farm, Ikenne LGA; and Obafemi Town, Obafemi Owode LGA.”
Maize and rice production
Late last year, farmers under Hope Concept Cooperative received bags of maize seeds, sprayers, herbicides, insecticides and fertiliser, among others, at Mologede, near Abeokuta, Ogun State, to boost maize productivity.
The president of the cooperative, Mr Akin Agboola, said the intervention came after about three years of failed attempts to secure support from ABP scheme, but commended the CBN for granting the facilities through Eco Bank.
Similarly, the chairman of the Maize Grower, Processor and Marketer Association of Nigeria (MAGPMAN), Ogun State, Prince Adefioye Ahmed, said expanding ABP operations in the southern zones by the CBN is more reasonable in the face of insecurity in the north.
“If we do not expand production in the southern zones, Nigeria may witness more shortage of food crops next year.
“I totally support the massive expansion of the Anchor Borrower’s scheme in the south so that farmers would be encouraged. State governments too should support farmers and their cooperatives with farm mechanisation tools and other inputs. Industries are in South West and South East to absorb crops, especially cassava and maize. Sentiments apart, we can feed ourselves,” he said.
Mr Samuel Akinade, the chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Oyo State, disclosed to The Guardian that in the 2020 rainy season rice farming, each of the 191 registered farmers got about N224,000 worth of inputs, such as rice seeds, chemicals, bags of fertiliser, sprayers, tractor services, and insurance.
He said the scheme had boosted their capacity to produce paddies without the hurdles of collaterals in commercial bank loans.
All facilities to farmers and agro-allied entities in the ABP are guaranteed by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). NIRSAL evaluates and verifies the farm projects to be financed, apart from the CBN evaluation, before loans are given through a designated participating bank.
MEANWHILE, the chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Lagos State, Femi Oke, said other than facilities through the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) in 2016, the Lagos farmers under AFAN had not benefitted from the ABP, urging the CBN to explore relatively safer zones for food production as the rainy season begins. Oke lauded the CBN for initiating and sustaining the scheme for food security but urged it to assist Lagos farmers.