The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stopped disbursing funds to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme which started in 2015, but beneficiaries kicked against this on Thursday.
Presidents of 68 agricultural commodities’ associations told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that the apex bank stopped supporting farmers under the ABP scheme since 2021.
They called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to direct the CBN to resume the disbursement of financial support to farmers to avert an impending threat to national food security.
Presidents of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Cotton Farmers Association of Nigeria, among others, convened a forum in Abuja on Thursday, where they spoke of the implications of the CBN’s action.
The Chairman, Forum of Agricultural Commodity Associations’ Presidents, Sadiq Daware, assured the CBN that though the recent floods dealt severely with farmers and affected the repayment of loans, the monies would be repaid.
He said the halt in financial support to farmers might erode the gains so far attained by farmers in the agricultural sector.
Daware said, “Since 2015 the bank has been providing support to farmers. In fact, a lot of money was disbursed and farmers to some extent have utilised those funds. You are all witnesses of the return of pyramids across the country.
“You have witnessed the ones in Kebbi, Niger, Gombe and some southern parts of the country. Recently, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria also built a pyramid here in Abuja.
“The Maize Association of Nigeria did the same in Kaduna. This is to show you that farmers have answered the President’s call to go back to farms and produce massively.”
He added, “But now, the CBN has stopped providing funds to support farmers and this was since 2021 till this year, 2022. For close to one and half years, farmers under our associations have not received support from the CBN.
“Therefore, we are calling on the President to again ask them (CBN) to continue supporting farmers in Nigeria to scale up capacity and produce what Nigerians can eat.
“I earlier stated that the government was spending about $2bn annually to support rice imports, but it has been able to save this huge amount of money and channel it to critical parts of the economy.”
The CBN recently announced that it was slowing down its interventionist funding in order to rein in inflation.
The Federal Government in 2015 activated the ABP scheme under the CBN, which was geared towards providing farmers with the critical funds and inputs needed to increase local production.
Daware said farmers were also faced with the challenges of insecurity, lack of consistent access to affordable finance, unavailability of quality inputs and skyrocketing prices of inputs.
Other challenges, according to him, included: high post-harvest losses, fragmented and unstructured market and the dangers associated with negative climate change.
“Sadly, the situation has been exacerbated by the flash floods currently being experienced across the country and the drought in others,” he stated.
He added, “Despite these daunting challenges experienced during the 2021/2022 farming season, the CBN has halted funding of Anchor Borrowers Programme and, therefore, no other support was given to farmers.
“This singular act may eclipse the significant achievements that have been made by this administration in this sector. In this regard, the forum is seeking for audience with Mr. President to give him first-hand information on Nigerian agriculture situation.”
On the way forward, he said farmers were making a clarion call to the government to take immediate and urgent steps to salvage the situation before it snowballed into a crisis of devastating proportions.
“Mr. President should direct the CBN to urgently provide funds to farmers for the 2022/2023 dry season farming. This should be treated as top priority and acted upon in earnest.”