…spends N55bn so far
Onyinye Nwachukwu, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced a new technology to guide input distribution to farmers under its Anchor Borrowers Programme which it has spent about N55bn so far, to execute and created several jobs.
The new scheme has seen biometrics information of the farmers taken, their farms mapped and biometric cards produced for each farmer, to enable their easy identification during the distribution of inputs by the service producers.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, speaking at the flag-off ceremony in Abuja, for this year’s dry season farming, said the pilot phase which was flagged was to build a national data for small holder farmers, enhance efficiency of input distribution and eliminate ghost farmers.
Represented at the event by his Special Adviser on agriculture, Olatunde Akande, Emefiele said that the service providers have already mapped all farmlands to be used for this season in order to avoid false claims by the participating farmers.
He noted that the Federal Capital Territory farmers would be used as pilot for the new innovation introduced into the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, and that the process will spread across several states which have expressed interest to participate.
At the event flagged off by the governor, the input distributed included water pumps, NPK fertiliser, organic fertiliser, urea fertiliser, and herbicides. The service providers also provided tractors that would be used for ploughing and harrowing.
“All these inputs form part of the total loan due to the farmer, thereby eliminating the old ways of distributing cash directly to farmers,” the governor stated.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Program ( ABP), of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has entered another phase with the coming on board of board, members of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) .
Under the new arrangement unfolded yesterday, CBN credit facility to RIFAN would be digitalised both in inputs and credit facility.
Speaking in Abuja at a separate meeting with RIFAN executive, Akande, said the partnership with RIFAN remains key, noting that it would help in digitalising loan processes for smallholder farmers.
He said the bank estimated that an additional two million tonnes of rice would be added in to national rice production using digitalised mechanism which would be made available to RIFAN members .
He said the collaboration would help in monitoring farmers closely, by ensuring they get inputs, extension services and other incentives needed to achieve bumper harvests.
Akande said the bank would partner with other commodity associations like maize, cassava, millet, sorghum and other staple foods to provide employment, reduce food import, boost export and earn foreign exchange.
” The ABP started in November 2015. Under two years, we decided to upscale it. We’ve decided to collaborate with RIFAN but we’ll also partner with maize, cassava, sorghum, etc, using commodities associations,” he explained.
“They have structures at all levels. We want to provide mentoring, extension services, to farmers through them. We can now provide tractorisation and all that.
“It’s about the loan being well utilised. There is a guaranteed market for farmers under this programmme. We’ve deployed seamless technologies to them. We’ve taken their biometrics and we have their contacts. Days of taking loans and inputs without accounting for them are over. In no distant time, we will attain food sufficiency and even export to earn foreign exchange”, he explained.
Akande also disclosed that under the ABP, all loans given to farmers are mandatorily insured by the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC).
He added that each farmer gets N250,000 to cultivate one hectare of land for the dry season farming.
Responding, President of RIFAN, Aminu Goronyo said the Anchor Borrowers Programme has recorded huge success as he revealed that about five million farmers are to cultivate 200,000 hectares of land for rice.
“For two years, the ABP worked successfully as the CBN/State governments’ programme. Now, it has graduated from government-government collaboration to government-private sector collaboration. We launched the pilot scheme in Gwagwalada, Abuja on Tuesday. Other states have launched today (Wednesday).It is tagged the RIFAN-CBN model.