Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Central of Nigeria (CBN) has asked rice farmers in Cross River State who benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to pay back the loans they collected in order not to stall the programme in the state.
The CBN said it was making the call for the loan repayment so that other rice farmers in the state who have not benefited from the programme can also benefit.
However, the call from the CBN came amid 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 fraud.
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 2019 Wet Season Rice Farming, said: “My colleagues from banks, NEXIM (Nigeria Export Import Bank), and former president of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RFAN) 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 percent single digit interest on every loan that you took; 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 out there who benefits from this kind of activity has been included with his or her dependents.’’
Sokari commented on the CBN’s policy stopping direct access of foreign exchange for 41 items formerly on the country’s import list, saying it was yielding tremendous results, especially in local rice production and processing.
According to him, “Today 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 the stable foreign exchange, it is through this, and if you want to increase output also, it is through the same process.”
Sokari said the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, takes the development and growth of the country’s agriculture sector seriously.
He applauded the efforts of the Cross River State Government in projecting agriculture as the mainstay of its economy, saying the policy was commendable.
However, some farmers who enrolled for the rice production in the state under the programme had denied getting any loan relating 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 alleged that the loan meant for farmers were hijacked by politicians, thus denying real farmers the opportunity of benefiting from the loan.