Some stakeholders have advised on what to do to make the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) more impactful in the country. This time around, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Agric Stakeholders and the Agricultural Commodity Associations have appealed to President Bola Tinubu to move the programme, which conceived, designed and implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security for better efficiency.
The Chairman of the group, Muhammad Gettado, during a press briefing at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, said the aims and objectives of the programme were not realised because the initiative was handled by the CBN instead of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security as well as the Bank of Agriculture. “We call on Mr. President to ensure that all agriculturally-related programmes are handled by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. At the same time, we suggest that all recovered monies from anchor borrowers’ be channelled to the Bank of Agriculture (BoA)”, he said.
The farmers had identified key areas of intervention by the Federal Government to strengthen the agriculture sector. These areas include providing massive support for the dry season production across the country and the restructuring of the Bank of Agriculture. They also called on President Tinubu to establish a separate ministry for the livestock subsector as is obtained in other countries. Alhaji Gettado stressed the need to restructure the country’s ‘Strategic Grains Reserve’ to make the system more effective. “We wish to call on the Minister (of Agriculture and Food Security) to reintroduce the license buying agent with a view to buying excess grains from farmers at the time of harvest. The importance of having enough grains in our various silos cannot be over-emphasised,” he said.
The APC agric stakeholders have equally called on the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari to support and prioritise the procurement and distribution of farm inputs to large, medium and small scale farmers at subsidised rate. Speaking on the theme: “Transforming Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector: The Way Forward”, the stakeholders said the agriculture sector had suffered setback due to series of challenges ranging from inadequate budgetary allocation, low productivity among others. The National Publicity Secretary, All Farmers Association (AFAN), Mohammed Gettado; South East Coordinator, Hadizatu Mustapha; and National Support Group, Dr. Austine Maduka, have observed that Nigeria’s agriculture sector has potentials to produce adequate food for the surging population and address food insecurity challenges.
It would be recalled that, at its inception in November 2015, the ABP was designed by the CBN to provide farm inputs in kind and cash to smallholder farmers. The aim was to boost the production of food commodities, stabilise input supply to agro-processors, and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food, among others. By 2022, the CBN had disclosed that at least 4.8 million farmers had benefited from the programme, but the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has been marred by loan defaults, even as food prices rose significantly within the years it started. Observers such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have revealed that 76 per cent of the loans collected by beneficiaries have yet to be repaid and that agricultural credit in the country had not succeeded in increasing production due to the difficulty in reaching the targeted farmers, hence justifying why the programme should be strengthened.