The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says 3.8 million farmers have so far benefited from its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). Mr Yila Yusuf, Director, Development Finance Department of the apex bank, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja. Yusuf said N554.61 billion had been disbursed through the programme since inception in 2015. He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the initiative to start the programme.
He said the programme had done a lot to help farmers improve their yields and generate employment.
“We have to commend President Buhari for putting the ABP in place. Over 3.8 million farmers have so far benefited from the programme. The multiplier effect on the economy is huge. The ABP has helped farmers improve their yields. For maize we now do five metric tonnes per hectare and for rice we’re improving from four metric tonnes to 10 metric tonnes per hectare. We will be trying out some Brazilian seeds that we will give to the anchors and their association,” he said. He said the CBN was making efforts to keep prices stable and to ensure food security. He said the programme had contributed to food sufficiency during the global lockdown occasioned by COVID-19.
“Apart from jobs that have been created, there is also productivity, which is important to CBN. We also look at how we can keep prices stable because food security is very important. A lot of countries went into protectionist mood due to COVID-19, if we did not have this programme we would be in serious trouble,” he said. The director said the CBN was taking steps to make staple foods like rice affordable to the masses. We are guaranteeing a minimum support price for the farmers. We allocate rice to the mills and we follow up; the price is already reacting. You can get it for around N19,000 now, and you can be sure that the rice is fresh and it is healthy,” he said. He said the programme was also going into a Strategic Maize Programme to stabilise the price of maize. We realised that the prices of maize are continuously increasing.
“What we have done is to guarantee all the output from the anchor and put it into the strategic programme and release to the millers. This is to warn those hoarding the produce that the prices will crash and they will lose,” he said. He said as a way of encouraging more farmers into ABP, the bank no longer took cash from them as repayment for their loans. We rate every single commodity they produce and guarantee the prices. This will encourage more farmers to enrol in the programme,” he said. (NAN)