The Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Malam Kabir Adamu, has said that the Bank disbursed N84 billion to farmers during the Anchor Borrower Program (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Anchor Borrowers’ Program was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, and was targeted at creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the process of selecting key agricultural commodities and smallholder farmers.
The focus of ABP is to provide seed to farmers and cash to grow the crops. This will help to boost production of the selected commodities and make sure there is a constant supply of the commodities to the agro-processors. The produce of farmers benefiting from ABP, after harvest, is supplied to the Agro-processor (Anchor) who pays the cash equivalent to your bank account.
While receiving the Participants and Officials of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), led by its Managing Consultant, Asipita Umar, the BOA MD said the Bank through its recent engagement had reached and empowerment millions of farmers.
“The most recent engagement that the Bank is undertaking is the Anchor Borrowers Program. The ABP is a product of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and BOA is a major financial institution that is used as a platform to reach the farmers, we have the expertise, we have network of input suppliers that are constantly in touch with the farmers.
“Through the ABP, the Bank has impacted on over 500,000 farmers directly, and indirectly, we are looking at 1.7 million farmers, the total hectarage that we covered under the Program is about 470,000 hectares, money received from the CBN is over N100 billion, and we have disbursed over N84 billion.”
He further said, “we have through the ABP covered series of crops, the major one is rice, and rice production has gone up, we also supported the production of maize, wheat, cotton, sorghum, groundnut, Sesame, cassava and many other crops are coming onboard.”
The BOA boss, however, noted that the challenge the Bank faces is from loan repayment because most of the farmers believe that the loan is a largesse from the Federal Government that needs not to be repaid, “but we have been sensitizing the farmers,” he said.
Going down the memory lane, Malam Adamu said “the Bank of Agriculture was established in 1972 with the mandate to support principally smallholder farmers, we have 140 branches before now we used to have over 300 branches mostly in the rural areas. Our plan is to have 774 branches in the next two years.
“The Bank is mainly focused on agriculture finance, to achieve this objective, we also have a mandate to do other activities apart from agriculture, that is to support other small and medium enterprises activities across the country.
“So you can see that the focus of the Bank really is of two points, one is social, that is how to support smallholder farmers, how to support small and medium enterprise so that they can be gainfully employed, and the second focus is commercial, we need to generate money to be able to support other activities.
“The social aspect of its expected goals are to create employee training, increase capacity, to create wealth and to increase production in the country. To this extent, the Bank has achieved a lot, all the agricultural activities that you see around in the last 40 years were initiated by the Bank.”
He, however, said another challenge the Bank faces was that money meant for agriculture was not channelled through the Bank as obtainable in other countries.
Going forward, he suggested that every agriculture-related fund should come to BOA, he said the Bank would manage such funds and generate revenue to carry out its activities.