Farmers canvass more coverage from central bank, hail N798 billion to 3.9 million farmers

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as said that its staff in Jos Branch, on Tuesday averted what would have been another major fire disaster in the country.

Farmers have described as commendable the agricultural interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to over 3.9 million small-scale holders across the country.

The apex bank had disbursed about N798.09 billion to farmers at the small-scale level across the country.

A recent data from CBN indicated that out of the sum for the 2021 wet season farming, N161.18bn was allocated to 770,000 small-holder farmers cultivating seven commodities on 1.10 million hectares in the country.

While calling for more coverage, the farmers said if such facilities had not been made available, the food crisis and inflation would have become worse as supply became low and prices rose in the last few months.

Statistics have shown that through various schemes, farmers have cultivated 4.9 million hectares of land across the country under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the apex bank.

Leader of the small-scale farmers in the Garam area of Niger State, Istifanus John, said some of his members accessed the facilities from the apex bank and has improved their production.

He said if more farmers are captured, it will go a long way in addressing food insecurity in the country.

“The old experience is the delay in accessing the CBN package. They usually come towards the end of production time and that has been making the intervention ineffective but it seems things are improving now,” he said.

Kebbi State Chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Sahabi Augie, was of the opinion that the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and denial of forex to food importers, was the wisest decision taken to boost domestic food production and at the same time create a market for home-grown food items.

Similarly, Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, said Governor Dapo Abiodun recently flagged off the mega Ogun State Cassava Intervention Project in the state with 3,500 candidates presented to CBN and National Cassava Growers Association (NCGA).

The farmers, he said, were at the money-making stage, having farmed and sold cassava to off-takers. He added that subsequent batches had also commenced farming and were at different stages of production.

He attributed the progress in cassava cultivation and other food crops to support and collaboration of the CBN, saying: “The governor also approved the clearing of 2,500 hectares of land by the Ministry of Agriculture for candidates who claimed not to have land, which is a requirement for the linkage programme in 16 locations across the state.”

Mr Mathew Ajayi, an agric economist, said access to finance is crucial to agric business and the interventions by the CBN would go a long way to boost agric production, especially among small-scale farmers.

“You see if the interventions are properly coordinated, and real farmers are involved, then we are on the right path but what we are hearing so far on some of the interventions shows there is need for improvement,” he said.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, explained after the recent Monetary Policy Committee that while harvesting for the 2020 dry season under the programme was rounding off, harvesting activities had commenced for the 2021 wet season cultivation.

He stated that the Strategic Maize Reserve Programme of the CBN had been useful in moderating maize prices by directly targeting large feed mill producers.

Under Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), he said the CBN had supported 657 large-scale agricultural projects, to the tune of N708.39bn, adding that the CBN has supported MSMEs across the country by disbursing N134.57bn to 38,140 beneficiaries under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).

But for the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), the apex bank governor said the sum of N343.21bn had been disbursed to 726,198 beneficiaries, comprising 602,730 households and 123,468 small and medium enterprises.

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