CBN Disburses N374bn to Smallholder Farmers

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By James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday said it has funded smallholder farmers (SHFs) under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) to the tune of N374 billion across the cassava, maize, cotton and rice value chain from 2016 to date.

CBN Director, Development Finance Department, Mr. Yila Yusuf, disclosed this at a meeting of key stakeholders in the programme.

Specifically, he said in the 2020 wet season farming, the apex bank disbursed over N200 billion to SHFs which represented the highest amount made available in a single year from the inception of the programme.

He said the CBN had accentuated the importance of cultivating staple foods locally to drive its food security mandate and shore up its foreign reserves by discouraging the importation of these commodities that could easily be cultivated in the country.

He said: “In this season, we have emphasised the use of new improved seeds which will guarantee bumper harvest for the farmers and enable the SHFs to pay back their loans with ease.

“The season also saw more involvement of prime anchors participation in the programme. The proposed 2020 dry season farming, will focus on the use of contagious lands for mechanisation by increasing land under cultivation with state government contributing between 20,000 to 100,000 hectares, use of improved seed and establishment of off take agreement.”

The CBN director, also pointed out that the ABP which was introduced in 2015, had witnessed a reasonable degree of success as indicated by the reduction in commodities importation, value chain development- particularly development of processing capacity of indigenous companies, empowerment and job creation as well as financial inclusion among others.

Yila, said the stakeholders’ meeting had been convened to, “take stock of our achievements and strategise on ways of achieving increased food production to meet the country’s ever-increasing food needs and avert predicting food crisis on the nearest future.

“We will therefore capitalise on our learning experiences thus far to achieve early successes, to move the bank forward particularly in its effort to achieve employment creation, poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth.”

He said the ABP was introduced in 2015 to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and SHFs of the key agricultural commodities.