Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Central of Nigeria (CBN) has appealed to rice farmers in Cross River State that benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to pay back the loans they collected so as not to stall the programme in the state.
The CBN said it is making the call for the loans repayment so that other rice farmers in the state who are yet to benefit from the programme can be given the opportunity to do so.
However, the call from the CBN comes amidst claims by some rice farmers in the state that the loans allegedly given to them under the scheme was a farce, and can best be described as fraudulent.
Making the appeal for the payment of the Anchor Borrowers’ loan, the Branch Controller of the CBN in the state, Mr. Chuks Sokari, while speaking at the commencement of the state’s 2019 Wet Season Rice Farming in Calabar weekend, said: “My colleagues from banks, NEXIM (Nigeria Export Import Bank), and then president of RFAN (Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria) have emphasised the need for those who have benefited from the intervention by way of loans to repay; this is very important.
“It is not an endless thing, so the CBN needs you to reciprocate by paying back, at least, a maximum of 9 per cent single digit interest on every loan that you take. And so, we expect that if you do that, we will reach out to the others who have not benefited and they are so many, and we want to bring them on board.
“You also remember that CBN is very much involved in financial inclusion, so, the small farmer who is out there, who benefits from this kind of activity has been included, and with him or her the retinue of dependants.’’
Commenting on the CBN’s policy stopping direct access of foreign exchange for 41 items formerly on the nation’s import list, Sokari said it was yielding tremendous results, especially in local rice production and processing.
“Today, it is a celebration of excellence when it comes to discussing our import reduction related to such commodities as rice.
“If you want to reduce import and sustain for a reasonable length of time stable foreign exchange; it is through this. If you want to increase output, it is through this; if you want us to have respect in the committee of nations as producing what we eat, this is it,” he said.
Sokari said the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, takes the development and growth of the nation’s agriculture sector seriously.
He applauded the efforts of the state government in projecting agriculture as the mainstay of its economy, saying the policy was commendable.
However, some farmers, who enrolled for rice production in the state under the programme, have denied getting any loan related to the Anchor Borrowers scheme for rice production.
One of the rice farmers, Mr. Godshield Kanjal, who volunteered to comment on the implementation of the scheme in the state, said aside from a few inputs for the cultivation of rice that he received, the loan promised in line with the programme was never given to him, and some rice farmers that he is aware of.
Kanjal said the loan meant for farmers were hijacked by politicians, thus denying real farmers the opportunity of benefiting from the loan.
“I supposed to be among the beneficiaries because I got inputs to prepare for the rice farming proper but unfortunately, I could not access the loan for reasons which I could not understand.
“I think some politicians hijacked that programme because the real rice farmers in the state did not benefit from the loan. I know many of the rice farmers who had the same problem and did not collect the loans,” Kanjal said.