The Bank of Agriculture (BOA) says it will partner with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to recover anchor-borrowers loan from defaulting farmers who took the loan since 2015 farming season.
BOA’s Managing Director, Alhaji Kabiru Mohammed-Adamu, made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria, Kaduna State on Thursday.
NAN reports that the managing director spoke on the sidelines of the flagging off of loan disbursement to benefiting members of the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) drawn from across the North-West geo-political zone.
He said: ‘‘We have appointed recovery agents nationwide, some of them are lawyers, some are professional recovery agents and they are working day and night to engage the farmers to be able to repay.
“We are doing all these as a moral suasion to ensure that farmers repay the loan.
“However, for those farmers that refused to pay back, we can’t sit down without doing anything to recover the money.
“As such, we are collaborating with security agencies, the EFCC in particular, and they have been highly supportive to fish out where those funds have been diverted to.
“People have now embraced the spirit of repaying their loans, at least we are getting request to restructure and extend the tenure of the facility,’’ he said.
Mohammed-Adamu added that the bank was doing everything possible to educate the farmers to understand that the sustainability of the programme solely relied on the recovery rate.
“It is supposed to be a revolving fund, when a set of farmers benefit and they have reached a level of comfort and they can finance their own activities directly, then, others can also benefit.
“But in a situation whereby funds are diverted, certainly it will kill the programme.
“As a bank, we are not just sitting down there watching this is happening, therefore, we are educating the farmers on the importance of repayment.
“Secondly, there is a collateral registry that has been established at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), now any farmer that borrows money on any of our programmes is registered on the collateral registry.
“If he or she refuses to repay the loan, his or her name would have been captured as somebody that has defaulted, so, he or she cannot enjoy any loan facility from any bank in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The managing director said the primary mandate of the bank was to grow the community and improve the well-being of rural dwellers particularly the smallholder farmers.
“We have a number of products that are geared toward supporting farmers; apart from the agricultural products, we also have products that are targeted at medium and small scale enterprises.
“Such products are just to empower those in that segment with little financial support so that they can be self-employed and be able to take care of themselves and possibly employ others.
“In the agriculture sector in particular, we have products and programmes along the gamut of value chain. At the primary level, we have normal financial support for farmers that are going into primary production,” he said.
“We also have support for aggregators, people that off-take from the farmers and sell to the processors.
“We also have a product under the ‘equipment leasing facilities’ for those that require mechanisation.
“For example, people that want to buy tractors, people that want to buy pick-ups and delivery vans that will move the produce from the markets to the processing areas, we have quite a number of products aimed at that.’’
He assured that in the future, the bank introduce ATM cards to farmers, adding that any farmer banking with BOA would have a dedicated ATM card that would enable him or her to have access to fund.
Mohammed-Adamu said the card would work both in the rural and urban areas to meet the expectations of Nigerian farmers.
On late disbursement of loans, he said the bank was sensitising farmers on the need to process the loan early enough to enable them secure the loan for wet season agricultural activities.
The Anchor Borrowers Scheme is a CBN initiative to empower farmers in cooperative societies to get loans at single-digit interest rate from the apex bank to produce, package, refine and market farm produce.