By Dipo Olowookere
About N44 billion has been shared to farmers in the country through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Speaking last Wednesday at the 12th Abuja International Trade Fair in Abuja, Acting Director of Corporate Communication of CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, stated that the N43.92 billion disbursed to the local farmers was to help them in increasing their yields.
He said so far, the programme has yielded positive results, expressing the bank’s continued commitment to the initiative.
The CBN anchor borrowers’ scheme is to help beneficiaries get farm inputs to boost production of rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soya beans, poultry, cassava and groundnuts.
According to him, the programme was done in association with 13 participating financial institutions with over 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states.
Through the programme, about 233,000 hectares of farmland have been cultivated with eight commodities, such rice, rice, wheat and maize among others.
“We cannot let our farmers go hungry while we enrich farmers from other countries.
“This is why we said for some certain items which are 41 in number, if you want to import them go and look for your own foreign exchange.
“As a complimentary measure, we put in place the Anchor Borrowers Programme for agriculture to make farmers rise, fill the space and gap created by the non-importation of those items.
“The programme has given us over two million tonnes of rice when our national demand is at about six million tonnes.
“This has taken our national output to about four million tonnes in the first year.
“We are very hopeful that we will further add at least another two million tonnes of rice this year that will take us up to six million tonnes.
“We are envisaging that by this time next year, Nigeria should be self-sufficient in rice production,” he said.
The CBN initiative was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, and was intended to create linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
The programme is also meant to stabilise inputs supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.
At harvest, the small holder farmer supplies his or her produce to the Agro-processor, who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account.
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