By Etuka Sunday
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) has not only ensured that Nigeria attains self-sufficiency in food production, but has helped in the return of pyramids in the country.
Recall, pyramids were built in northern Nigeria in cities such as Kano, Kaduna, where groundnut production was a key part of the economy.
The pyramids were viewed as both a tourist attraction and a symbol of wealth. However, in the 1960s and 70s when the country’s economic focus shifted from agriculture to crude oil, the pyramids disappeared.
Nevertheless, recently, the present administration through CBN has made efforts to revive the industry and rebuild the pyramids.
With the current crash in the price of crude oil at the international market, the need for the diversification of the economy cannot be undermined.
Just recently, in line with the economic diversification drive of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Administration’s emphasis on agricultural revolution, the CBN flagged off 2020 input distribution to rice farmers and loan recovery drive under the RIFAN-CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele while speaking at the event said, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) has proven to be a game-changer in the financing of Smallholder farmers in Nigeria as it has revolutionized agricultural financing and has remained the fulcrum of the country’s agricultural transformation initiatives.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, CBN, Mr. Edward Adamu, Emefiele said, beyond being a tool for economic empowerment, job creation, and wealth redistribution, it has also galvanized financial inclusion in the rural communities.
He noted that since the launch of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme by Mr. President on 17th November, 2015 in Kebbi, rice has remained the focal crop under the Programme. This is in realization of the crucial role of rice as a major staple in the diet of average Nigerians.
He said, “with a population of about 200 million people, importation of any major food item will continually drain our external reserves, export our jobs to countries where those food items are produced and distort our commodity value chains as we will not be able to guarantee the supply of raw materials for our agro-allied companies.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria is leading this revolution because our economic and financial policies will amount to nothing if we cannot address the volatility of food prices as a Nation,” he said.
The apex bank governor said that the partnership with Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) under the Commodity Association Window of the ABP was a flag-ship programme to explore the potentials inherent in Agricultural Commodity Associations and position them strategically as drivers of enhanced agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
Linking the Associations to the innovative financing model under the ABP delivered quality inputs and mechanization services to farmers at a competitive price and the right time.
He said, from a modest pilot of 75,000 farmers in 26 states, the RIFAN-CBN ABP has now been fully established in all States of the Federation and the FCT. With the deployment of technology which covered farmers enumeration, biometric capture and GPS mapping of farms all embedded to enhance the operational efficiency of the ABP, the 2018 wet season witnessed a geometric rise in beneficiaries, as about 275,000 farmers were empowered to cultivate 220,000 hectares across all the 37 States of the Federation and FCT. The target hectarage for 2019 was 500,000 and we hope to achieve 1 million by 2020 dry season.
Emefiele said, “loan recovery is the hallmark of any credit process and the combination of this input distribution flag-off with loan recovery drive further demonstrates that this is a sustainable credit programme.”
He said, despite the devastation caused by numerous floods in the 2018 wet season, farmers have been submitting produce and cash as part of their loan repayment but we need the Association to intensify efforts in this regard in the spirit of the partnership and sustainability of the programme. The CBN has continued to enhance her risk mitigation strategies to guarantee the intended outcomes of the ABP.
Beyond rice, he said, the Commodity Association Window has been expanded to cover more commodities like maize, cassava, sorghum, soy bean, ginger etc and we are hopeful that all these efforts will contribute to our national aggregates and galvanize our drive to economic diversification.
He said, the participation of other Commodity Associations poses a leadership challenge to RIFAN to remain the lead association and a role model for others in terms of members’ engagement and loan recovery.
He said, “food is a necessity of life and we must sustain our efforts to galvanize agricultural production to meet the requirements of our growing population. We cannot continue to dwell on the neglect of past years, the next best time to correct those mistakes is now and every stakeholder must contribute to the effort to guarantee the realization of the national goals of food security and economic diversification. Our future is bright as a country, but we must continue to take those little steps that will take us to the desired destination.
“Our deepest appreciation goes to Mr. President and C-i-C, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his unwavering support and encouragement on this journey. We also thank the Governor of Niger State, H.E. Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello, for believing in this Programme and supporting it all the way including hosting this very important event.
“I wish to conclude this address on a note of appreciation for our partners, RIFAN and our farmers for keeping the faith. I thank you all for being part of this event and I pray for a bountiful harvest for all our farmers,” he said.