Food security: Farmers, Agric stakeholders hail CBN interventions

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SMALLHOLDER farmers as well as other stakeholders in the Nigerian agriculture sector have hailed series of intervention schemes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to support farmers, saying such interventions have been responsible for the food security being currently enjoyed in the country.

They said if such financial support valued at N798.09 billion to 3.9 million smallholder farmers had not been made available, food crisis and inflation would have become worse as supply became low and prices rose in the last few months.

Through various schemes, the farmers have cultivated 4.9 million hectares of land across the country under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the apex bank.

A smallholder and beneficiary of the recent CBN financial support from Oyo State, Mr Akinbowale Makanjuola, commended the CBN under the leadership its governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for the efforts towards reviving agriculture and enhancing economic growth.

He noted that CBN’s credit facilities had caused a major turnaround in smallholder farmers food production output, while urging the apex bank not to relent so that more smallholder farmers can benefit.

A rice farmer in Ofada, Ogun State, John Olawale, while commending the CBN and describing its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) as very good and beneficial to many farmers, said the programme has assisted in stemming illegal importation of food and has given incentive to local farmers to operate optimally while ensuring national food security.

Olawale said the ABP is a good effort by the government to protect local farmers by banning the importation of food items that the local farmers have a comparative advantage in production.

A former president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Ibrahim Kabir, explained that ‘‘The CBN intervention has surely helped the food system and without it, the situation would have been more uncomfortable.’’

It would, however, he said, be more impactful if the apex bank could reach more farmers, especially through AFAN, rather than directly through the commodity associations.

‘‘AFAN would have ensured due diligence in rating the farmers in terms of ability to repay so that the loans would revolve appreciably for others to get as some others promptly repay,’’ he added.

Kebbi State chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Sahabi Augie, said: ‘‘Definitely, the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, coupled with denial of forex to food importers, was the wisest decision taken to boost domestic food production and at the same time create market for home-grown food items.’’

Similarly, Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, said governor Dapo Abiodun recently flagged off the mega Ogun State Cassava Intervention Project in the state with 3,500 candidates presented to CBN and National Cassava Growers Association (NCGA).

The farmers, he said, were at money-making stage, having farmed and sold cassava to off-takers. He added that subsequent batches had also commenced farming and were at different stages of production.

He attributed the progress in cassava cultivation and other food crops to support and collaboration of the CBN, saying: ‘‘The governor also approved the clearing of 2,500 hectares of land by the Ministry of Agriculture for candidates who claimed not to have land, which is a requirement for the linkage programme in 16 locations across the state.’’

Odedina said recently, in Ikenne Farm Settlement, Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State, which is one of the land clearing sites supported by the CBN, clearing services of ploughing, harrowing and mechanical planting were made available for 100 youths in the Ikenne cluster.

‘‘The linkage programme is continuous, as there are other six sites to follow, which include Pagbonrinoba (Ipokia Local Government Area (LGA)); Afon Estate (Imeko LGA); MAPOLY (Obafemi Owode LGA); Obafe Town (Obafemi Owode LGA); Apojola (Odeda LGA) and Omugbawojo (Ijebu North East LGA).

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries in Ogun State, Mrs Itunu Olufemi, who expressed delight at the exercise, lauded the CBN for keeping fulfilling its promises, maintaining that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) is no scam, contrary to rumours making the rounds, but a reality.

Another beneficiary, Mr. Osawonta Lucky, described the land allocation as a dream come through, saying that the CBN has continued to send messages of hope to smallholder farmers, while expressing optimism that the trend would continue. Osawonta, further said that if the CBN continues with its intervention programmes, Nigeria would not witness any form of food crisis now and in the future.

A recent data from CBN indicated that out of the sum for the 2021 wet season farming, N161.18 billion was allocated to 770,000 small-holder farmers cultivating seven commodities on 1.10 million hectares in the country.

While evaluating the impact of the interventions on the recovery of the economy post-COVID-19 lockdown, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, explained after the recent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting that while harvesting for the 2020 dry season under the programme was rounding off, harvesting activities had commenced for the 2021 wet season cultivation.

He stated that the Strategic Maize Reserve Programme of the CBN had been useful in moderating maize prices by directly targeting large feed mill producers.

Under Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), he said the CBN had supported 657 large-scale agricultural projects, to the tune of N708.39 billion, adding that CBN has supported MSMEs across the country by disbursing N134.57 billion to 38,140 beneficiaries under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).

But for the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), the apex bank governor said the sum of N343.21 billion had been disbursed to 726,198 beneficiaries, comprising 602,730 households and 123,468 small and medium enterprises.


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