Business

Keying into CBN’s agric financing

Again, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has charged aspiring and existing farmers who need facilities for small-scale farming and food processing to key into the bank’s intervention schemes in order to address the challenge of rising food demand. TAIWO HASSAN reports

Indeed, recently released headline inflation rate of 18.17 per cent for March driven by food inflation mostly caused by insecurity and other challenges in the country’s agric sector has shown that Nigerian farmers must not relent in their efforts to be productive despite the ugly situation. One of the much talked about challenges has been the lack of finance and absence of arrangements that guarantee price stability and assured market among Nigerian farmers in the past. To overcome the challenges, the apex bank is calling on aspiring and existing farmers to key into the bank’s intervention schemes such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) and AgriBusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).

CBN’s rescue mission

While speaking at an agric forum in Abuja recently, the CBN governor said that the bank decided to rescue the country’s abandoned agric sector. Emefiele decried the over-reliance of the country on crude oil earnings, saying that the bank, as part of its mandate to ensure price and monetary stability, had to intervene in the agricultural sector in order to diversify the Nigerian economy as well as mitigate the impact of global shock to the economy arising from volatility in the price of crude oil. He, however, stated that the total disbursements as at January 2021 amounted to N2 trillion. “We have also disbursed N106.96 billion to 27,956 beneficiaries under the AgriBusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme,” the CBN governor said. According to him, If Israel with its poor environmental endowment could become a giant in agricultural development and a world power in food production, Nigeria can do better. He said CBN was eager to see more aspiring and existing farmers keying into its intervention funds by leveraging on it as a breakthrough solutions that would improve productivity of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

Stakeholders’ testimonies

Managing Director of Dangote Tomato processing plant in Kadawa, Kano State, Abdulkarim Kaita, said that the establishment of ABP by the apex bank had given ample opportunity to tomato farmers in accessing CBN and BoA’s N250 billion soft loans as part of the scheme to aggressively develop the tomato industry. Kaita explained that Dangote had distributed tomato seedlings to 5,000 farmers under the Anchor Borrower’s Programme of Central Bank of Nigeria. The MD hinted that plans were underway by the company to ensure that Nigeria is self-sufficient and positioned to export tomatoes by establishing the biggest greenhouse in Africa, which has the capacity to produce 350 million seedlings annually. “The company is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria under the Anchor Borrower’s Programme to provide tomato farmers with high yield seeds, which will enable them to produce a minimum of 40 tonnes per hectare. “Similarly, the company is putting a lot of effort to ensure that Nigeria is self sufficient in tomato production by establishing the biggest greenhouse in Africa which has the capacity to produce 350 million seedlings annually.” To him, accessing the CBN’s soft loan by tomato farmers has been easy and commendable, thus charging others to follow suit. Similarly, Chairman, Kano State chapter, Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria, Sani Danladi-Yadakwari, commended the Federal Government for including tomato value chain in the ABP, noting that it would go a long way in boosting tomato production in the country. Also, the Chairman of Lagos chapter of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Femi Oke, said CBN’s intervention fund for the agribusiness sector, especially in the cassava value chain, had been a game changer as it has spurred many cassava farmers to access soft loans at ease from the apex bank’s facility at single digit lending rate. He said that borrowing the facility at single digit had enabled his colleagues to get modern agricultural inputs for mechanised farming, which is very critical for the country’s food sustainability. President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs.Toki Mabogunje, stated that the chamber applauded CBN for coming up with ABP to rescue farmers and SMEs in accessing facility at single digit rate. According to her, LCCI can attest to lots of its members that have benefited to improve their businesses. Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi- Kadir, insisted that the ABP scheme was real and genuine, thus charging other intended recipients to apply for it in a bid to tackle looming food challenge in the country.

Last line

The country may currently be facing security challenge and others, which are triggering food inflation, hunger, austerity and others. But the fact remains that Nigerian farmers still hold the ace to guaranteeing food production. So they should not allow these straits affect their morales to overcome the obstacles.

 

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