Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Farmers Empowerment Association has lamented that the stringent measures put in place by the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) are scaring away off-takers who are ready to buy agricultural products from the farmers.

The farmers’ association, which has over 6,000 members, also decried the mode of operation of the bank, which it said was not living up to the expectation of the youths that want to go into farming.

Its President, Mr. Obaje David disclosed this in Abuja at a recent quarterly event organised by Economic and Business Strategies (EBS)/ Refined Economic Development (RED) with the topic ‘The Role of Central Bank in Agricultural Development’; saying that the intervention of CBN in agricultural sector was very good but the implementation has a lot of issues.

He said the CBN is showing a lot of commitment to ensure that farmers get all the support they need from crop production to processing, but noted that one of the challenges confronting farmers was that the CBN does not have total control on its programmes along the line of implementation.

Obaje stressed that the CBN needs to go beyond releasing the funds to the agencies in charge to also make sure they are being implemented timely.

The President explained that while the Anchors Borrowers programme is a good innovation, farmers might not be able to access the funds in a State where the government is not interested in supporting agriculture.
He also blamed the late release of funds to farmers during the planting season on the bureaucratic bottleneck at the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

Obaje said: “For example, the Anchors Borrowers programme has about four legs, the private and the government…the one that has to do with private sector, the CBN is using a mono bank, the Bank of Agriculture (BoA). Their style is not living up to what the youths want.

“You cannot just use a bank where you don’t have ATM, you can’t transfer money while on the farm, you have to go to the bank where you deposited your money in before you can make withdrawal or make transaction; and the condition BoA is setting for the off-takers are too stringent.

“For example, I want to come and buy your products and you are telling me that the person that is buying, who has the same opportunity to buy in open market or anywhere, you are saying that before the farmer would access fund, I, as a buyer must submit my document, my company’s document, collateral, I will give post-dated cheque.
“If I don’t buy from him I can buy from any other person. This is what we farmers are suffering; the off-takers are running away because of the conditions being set by BoA and those conditions are too stringent for the off-takers.”

Earlier, the CEO of EBS, Prof. Magnus Kpakol, said the intervention of CBN in instituting and activating some of the programmes being witnessed now was contributory to the country exiting recession.
He stressed the need for more sensitisation on the intervention programmes by the CBN so that people would understand it more and to see how they could be partners.

Kpakol said: “We need partnerships with foreign stakeholders so that we can develop market outside, so that we can add value. What is important is not just to plant products and bring them out, but to be able to process them and add value and export them and gain foreign exchange. I think in that regard, the CBN and other parties will have to try to see how we build partnerships outside especially for the purpose of exporting.”