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Planting season: Farmers seek N1bn loan for fertiliser

In line with the need to effectively upscale agric produce and guarantee food security in the country following COVID-19 impact on agriculture, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) is set to approach the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for a revolving loan of N1 billion to buy fertiliser for Nigerian farmers at controlled price. The move is in consultation with the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PTI). National President of AFAN, Kabir Ibrahim, who disclosed this to New Telegraph, said that in the 2020 wet season, Nigerian farmers were prepared to feed the 200 million population and ensure that the predictions by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an organisation of the United Nations and other international agencies, on food crisis in Nigeria does not come to pass post-COVID- 19.

The AFAN national president explained that the association was embarking on significant strides on a number of fronts, including reducing post-harvest losses, securing insurance and input supply, especially fertiliser and other agro-chemicals for Nigerian farmers. He explained that AFAN executives had reached-out to the chairman of PFI to assist members with NPK 20:10:10 for farming in order to boost food production and sufficiency in the country post-COVID-19. According to him, the N1 billion agric loans for fertiliser purchase from the apex bank for local farmers in the country is meant to increase food production and stimulate agriculture as the antidote to combat the adverse effect of coronavirus on Nigeria’s economy.

He commended CBN for its support in Nigerian agric development with the different intervention funds to Nigerian farmers in line with the present administration’s agenda to resuscitate the country’s economy. The AFAN president stated that CBN, through its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), released N16 billion to farmers to boost agriculture, adding that farmers were in possession of high yielding seeds for this year’s planting season and that getting fertilizer for them at reasonable prices would be key to, not only bumper harvest, but also guaranteeing food security in the country. Ibrahim said: “AFAN has established that it will be necessary to make fertiliser and other inputs available to the Nigerian farmers well ahead of the rains to effectively upscale their productivity.

“In the light of this, it is planning to approach CBN in consultation with the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to raise a revolving loan of N1 billion to buy fertiliser to sell to farmers at controlled price. “The model will be such that the money will be perpetually replenished as repayment is made.

It is also to be interest free (zero interest) because the farmers should be incentivised by being directly subsidised.” According to him, the Nigerian farmers have suffered huge losses running into billions of naira, postharvest, noting that it was very mandatory to make fertiliser available to them to curb losses. Also, Ibrahim noted that AFAN was carefully appraising the authenticity of several windows of zero interest loans and others for smallholder farmers to key in to boost agric funding to enable them produce en-mass post-COVID-19. “We are continually agitating for guaranteed minimum price for our produce, the reestablishment of National Food Reserve Agency, the evolution of National Agricultural Development Fund as well as equity in BOA for sustainable agricultural financing. “The several windows of zero interest loans and others are being carefully appraised for authenticity.”

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