By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has guaranteed a total of N122.6 billion loans under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) as at end 2020.
Chairman of the Fund’s Board, Mr. Stephen Okon, disclosed this, in Abuja, yesterday, at the National Award Ceremony for the Best Farmer of the Year 2020 under the scheme.
According to him, “In 2020, a total of 30, 267 loans valued N4. 32 billion were guaranteed, while the cumulative loans guaranteed from inception (1977) to 2020 stood at 1,180,000 valued N122.632 billion.”
Okon said that the Fund has positively impacted on agriculture and agri-business in the country, especially since the increase of its share capital from N3 billion to N50 billion in line with current economic realities.
He added: “The amended Act introduced new strategies aimed at repackaging and repositioning the scheme for greater effectiveness and efficiency towards re-positioning Nigeria as a self-sufficient food producer, creating millions of jobs, supplying key markets across the country and damping the effects of exchange rate movements on local prices.
“Equally, the maximum amount for loans without collateral was increased from N20, 000 to N100, 000, while the maximum for loans with collateral was increased from N10 million to N50 million.
“Furthermore, the recently amended Act allowed for complete agricultural value chain financing which includes the financing of production of farm machinery, implements and equipment for production, processing, storage and transportation and any purpose connected with the activities within the agricultural value chain.”
He also disclosed that the rate of loans re-payment under the scheme has been very high, with beneficiaries enjoying 40 per cent Interest Drawback for timely re-payment.
In his remarks, CBN’s Director of Development Finance, Mr. Philip Yila, said that the apex bank was committed to the diversification of the nation’s economy, with particular emphasis on agriculture, giving its contribution to employment generation and economic growth.
Yila disclosed that the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the CBN has changed the narrative in the agricultural sector, with massive rice production across the country.
According to him, but for the ABP, the nation would have had a terrible difficulty in feeding its population under the protectionism policy adopted by many rice exporting countries, at the peak of the COVID -19 pandemic.
He said that there was a plan to import Brazilian seeds to ensure greater yield among the nation’s rice farmers.
Yila expressed optimism that with the allocation of rice paddy to millers across the country, the price of the commodity would soon fall in the market.