The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expended N55 billion to prosecute Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), a rice sufficient scheme it launched on November 17, 2015.
The scheme has entered the second phase, with the apex bank bringing on board members of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN). Under the new arrangement unfolded yesterday, CBN credit facility to RIFAN would be digitalized both in inputs and credit facility.
Speaking in Abuja at a meeting with RIFAN executive, Special Assistant to the CBN Governor on Agriculture and Development Finance, Tunde Akande, said the partnership with RIFAN remains key, noting that it would help in digitalizing loan process for smallholder farmers.
He said the bank estimated that an additional two million tonnes of rice would be added into national rice production using digitalized mechanism which would be made available to RIFAN members.
He said the collaboration would help in monitoring farmers closely by ensuring they get inputs, extension services and other incentives needed to achieve bumper harvests.
Akande said the bank would partner with other commodity associations like maize, cassava, millet, sorghum and other staple foods to provide employment, reduce food import, boost export and earn foreign exchange.
“The ABP started in November 2015. Under two years, we decided to upscale it. We’ve decided to collaborate with RIFAN, but we’ll also partner with maize, cassava, sorghum, etc., using commodities associations.
“They have structures at all levels. We want to provide mentoring, extension services, etc. to farmers through them. We can now provide tractorization and all that.
“It’s about the loan being well utilized. There is a guaranteed market for farmers under this programme. We’ve deployed seamless technologies to them. We’ve taken their biometrics and we have their contacts. Days of taking loans and inputs without accounting for them are over. In no distant time, we will attain food sufficiency and even export to earn foreign exchange,” he explained.
Akande also disclosed that under the ABP, all loans given to farmers are mandatorily insured by the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC).
He added that each farmer gets N250,000 to cultivate one hectare of land for the dry season farming.
Responding, President of RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for launching the ABP in 2015, saying the scheme has recorded huge success.
He said that about five million farmers are to cultivate 200,000 hectares of land for rice.
“For two years, the ABP worked successfully as CBN/state governments’ programme. Now, it has graduated from government-government collaboration to government-private sector collaboration. We launched the pilot scheme in Gwagwalada, Abuja on Tuesday. Other states have launched today (Wednesday). It is tagged the RIFAN-CBN model.
“This collaboration is to put Nigeria on right track in agribusiness. Before 2015, it was operating on an analogue model, thus making monitoring and compliance very challenging. So, all that was done in agriculture was not detailed recorded.
“But with this, we’ve 500,000 farmers under this season’s farming. From this figure, we’ve 200,000 farmers for the dry season.
“With this new digitalized programme, I can, from my phone, reach all the farmers. It’s a global innovation. Farmers are now accessible, verifiable and the entire process reliable. Anyone coming to do business with us can access us and work with reliable data,” he explained.
Goronyo added that RIFAN has national working committees and six zonal offices and heads at both local government and ward levels.
He also disclosed that 32 states are currently on board the ABP, revealing that Benue, Nassarawa, Enugu and Cross River states could not join this year’s farming season due to failure to tidy up their application and documentation before the deadline elapsed.
“They couldn’t meet the time for applications and all. So, we’ve deferred their participation till next wet season,” he added.