By Emma Ujah
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday, charged beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), its flagship agriculture intervention scheme, to repay their loans.
The Kaduna Branch Controller of the apex bank, Mal. Ahmed Wali, gave the charge while flagging off the distribution of 27, 000 tonnes rice paddy to millers.
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The charge came amidst concerns that the ABP might run into hitches due to persistent bandits’ attacks on farmers in the far North and herders’ attacks against crop farmers in North Central, as well as, Southern Nigeria, forcing many farmers to abandon their farms.
According to Wali, the loans given to beneficiaries must be repaid to enable other farmers to benefit from the scheme, in order to boost food production in the country.
He said: “CBN is committed to assisting farmers, especially the small holder farmers with facility support. The intervention is a long journey. Whoever we give our money to as a beneficiary, we expect you to promptly pay back. We encourage our farmers to tow this line-to pay back facility on maturity.”
With the distribution of rice paddy to millers across the country, the hope is to bring down the soaring prices rice, in the country, with 50 kg bags currently selling at about N29, 000.
Wali added, “The direct allocation from Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) warehouses across 16 states of the federation followed the earlier sale of paddy aggregated as loan repayment under ABP to millers from the rice pyramids recently unveiled in Niger, Kebbi, Gombe and Ekiti states.
“The idea of distributing rice paddy to millers is in line with the bank’s mandate of ensuring price stability and its focus of being a people-centered central bank.”
In his remarks, the President of RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, said that the paddies supplied to rice millers would lead to affordable rice prices to Nigerians.