The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has been commended for initiating the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which has helped smallholder maize farmers in the country to attain quality production and sustainable life.
The National President of Maize Association of Nigeria, Dr Bello Abubakar, gave the commendation at the inauguration of the first National Maize Pyramid unveiling programme in Abuja recently.
He said that maize farmers in the country were currently producing enough to meet up the demand for maize in Nigeria.
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The president called on the government to sustain the ban on maize importation to further boost maize production and to encourage farmers in the country.
“We say no to maize importation into Nigeria and we will always support the Central Bank of Nigeria for denying maize importers forex “simply because the CBN supports President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda of “eat what we produce and produce what we eat.”
“We can produce enough for our consumption and industrial use,” he said.
He said that the Anchor Borrowers’ programme had helped smallholder maize farmers in the country to attain quality production and sustainable life.
“Anchor Borrowers’ Programme was initiated in the first instance to help link smallholder farmers to processors thereby creating viable and sustainable money.”
He quoted the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele as saying that “the maize pyramid unveiling programme marks another milestone in the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ story.”
Emefiele said that the Anchor Borrower’s Programme had proven to be a game-changer in revolutionising agriculture in Nigeria.
The CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme was initiated in 2015 as part of the Federal Government’s policy of diversification of the national economy through the non-oil sector.
The programme started with rice farming in 2015 which recorded various successes and later government introduced cotton, maize and other commodities.
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have urged farmers to embrace the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ scheme for small-scale individual and cooperative farmers to boost food production.
A member of the Maize Growers, Farmers and Manufacturers Association, MAGFAMAN, Alhaji Nuhu Gidado, explained that the CBN intervention particularly on dry season farming, was the right decision at the right time
Gidado who has his maize plantation through irrigation in Niger State said there is a need for the CBN to expand the scope of their funding adding that if this is done, dry season farmers will be encouraged to put more efforts to get bountiful harvest within the stipulated time.
He explained that since the weather cannot be predictable this day, it is better to concentrate all energies towards dry season farming where the farmers have absolute control, adding that all things been equal maize could be planted three times within a year and it will increase food production at the long run.
He argued that local farmers can meet the demand of the local consumption of maize if there is consistency in the CBN intervention fund, noting that the period of pandemic shook the association to its foundation because local farmers cannot just meet up in its production capacity.
“But the situation is now better and we are hoping for a better planting season as soon as the rain is around, to fill this gap all the maize produced during the dry season will be an advantage in the maize value chain”
A rice farmer in Katsina, Alhaji Musa Wakili, while revealing the support he got through the anchor borrower’s loan scheme, said many farmers have benefited from the programme across the 34 local government areas in the state.
He said the anchor borrower’s programme had also created “thousands of millionaires” stressing that farmers were provided with fertiliser, seedlings, water pumping machines, insecticides, sprayers and herbicides through a revolving loan.
“We have received support from the Federal Government’s ABP scheme and we are still receiving support.
“We have got inputs from the Anchor Borrower’s scheme handled by the Federal Government. We got inputs last year, not cash. And this year, we are compiling the list of farmers for the dry season farming of rice now.
“ My last year harvest was encouraging and l hope to double it as soon as we can sort out the paperwork.”
Speaking on why more farmers should key into the program, the National President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, CFAN, Mr Adeola Adegoke, explained how they accessed the loan.
He said after filing for loans and verification of members, farm locations and hectares were verified before farm inputs were distributed to 156 members of the association in Ibadan, Oyo State in 2020.
The cocoa farmers were given some herbicides, fungicide, insecticides and fertilisers under the ABP.
The association said that the inputs would enable each beneficiary to boost cocoa productivity per hectare from the average of 350kgs to about 600kgs per hectare.
Adegoke said about 1,221 farmers in 10 cocoa-cultivating states in “Ondo, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Kwara, Ogun, Delta, Abia and Oyo” benefitted from the scheme.