By Charles Nwaoguji
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has concluded arrangements to support 70,000 maize farmers under its Anchor Borrowers Programme, during the 2020 wet farming season.
Head, Development Finance Office, CBN, Mr Nuhu Muazu, indicated this on Thursday in Abuja during the launching of farm inputs distribution to maize farmers for the 2020 wet season.
Muazu said that the programme was designed to boost food production and guarantee food security in the country.
While urging the farmers to make judicious use of the support to be received in form of cash, loans, farm inputs and technical support, Muazu reminded them that the loans would be repaid.
According to him, the Federal Government through the CBN introduced the Anchor Borrowers Programme to assist Nigerian farmers so that the nation can feed and have excess that can be exported to earn foreign exchange.
“For years, we have been using our hard earned foreign exchange to import food that we can produce, by doing so, we are importing unemployment.
“We are also empowering farmers in other countries at the expense of the farmers in Nigeria.
“Hence, the Federal Government said no, we have to feed ourselves, but we have to support our farmers with the necessary finances that will assist them to produce,’’Muazu said.
He further said that the CBN decided to collaborate with Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN) because it is a reputable association.
According to him, CBN will grant loans to farmers, use the inputs, harvest and pay back to give other people the opportunity to access the loans.
In his remarks, the National President of MAGPAMAN, Dr Edwin Uche, said that each of the 70,000 maize farmers would receive N182,000 per hectare.
According to him, this N182,000 has a composition of input and cash, technical support, extension support, land preparation and a lot of exposure embedded in it.
“It is an encapsulation of a lot of things at a time, so the farmer has an opportunity of a whole new experience,’’Uche said.
He emphasised that the association was passionate about the empowerment of the farmers, to enable them operate in accordance with international best practices.
“This is essential to enable them repay their loans and make profit, so that they can come out of poverty and empower the family and build the local economy.
“As an association, we put up performance indicator, but as a farmer, you must grow from strength to strength.
“We want to see people move from stage to stage and that is the whole essence of the Anchor Borrower Programme.
“Considering the quality of seed we are giving the farmers, we are expecting a minimum of five tonnes per hectare and when a farmer is repaying a loan with about two tonnes per hectare, he has three tonnes to play around with,’’Uche said.
Dr Victor Inyama, National President, Federation of Agricultural Commodity Association of Nigeria (FACAN), commended CBN for the programme designed to boost food production.
Represented by Dr Bello Dogondaji, National Secretary of FACAN, Inyama urged farmers to leverage on the support for agricultural development in the country.
While urging them to maximise the use of the inputs, he cautioned them of the consequences of selling the inputs.
Representative of Eco Bank, Nkiru Ugwu, assured the farmers of the bank’s commitment to collaborate with them in actualising their goals.
One of the beneficiaries, Malam Shehu Aliyu, expressed delight over the support programme and said that it would boost agricultural development in the country.
“The programme will make things easy for farmers and will go a long way in improving food production,’’Aliyu said.
Some items distributed to the farmers include maize seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and sprayer.