Some farmers in the South-West part of the country on Tuesday decried the delay in starting of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Scheme in the region.
The farmers said in Lagos that the inability of the scheme to begin in the zone was militating against food production.
They said that their counterparts in the northern part were already benefiting from the programme and wondered why the delay in the South-West.
Temitope Odetola, President, Association of Youth for Unity in Agriculture (AYUA), said that farmers in Ogun and Lagos states had not benefited from the programme.
Odetola said that there had been series of meetings but the drivers of the scheme were not getting it right in terms of plan to favour all (farmers, commercial banks and off-takers) involved.
“We have not benefited from anchor borrowers’ because the process is somehow difficult.
“We do not know if the strategy they are using in the South-West is different from the one in the North.
“Maybe we are doing something wrong because last year, we wanted to plant cassava in Ogun under the scheme, we had off-takers already on ground.
“Each person was to open a WEMA Bank account with an equity contribution of N50,000.
“Each person will also take two hectares of land and the cost for cultivation will be N500,000, which the CBN will provide for the purchase of stems, sprayer, fertiliser and others, and the equity contribution of each farmer is N50,000.
“Interestingly, interested individuals have paid this money and prepared their lands. Yet, the CBN has delayed the release of fund to kick start the project and people have been calling to complain,” he said.
According to Odetola, the farming year for cassava is almost over.
“We are in May going to June, and cassava is a year project while the hybrid is eight months. If we do not start now, by then, it will be impossible to make good this farming season,” he said.
Odetola, however, said that there should be more commitment and collaboration between farmers and governors in the South-West, including the commercial banks and the CBN.
Nurudeen Tiamiyu, an aquaculture expert, said the cap on the amount for interested farmers under the scheme could not fund aquaculture.
Tiamiyu said that the cap under the scheme was N500,000, which could not feed 1,000 pieces of fish, which would require between N560,000 to N600,000.
“Unfortunately, the government does not understand aquaculture and there is no mincing of word about it.
“There was a time I was called upon to be a part of the programme in CBN to look at the cost of production for both catfish and tilapia which we gave them.
“Anchor borrowers scheme cannot fund aquaculture with the cap that cooperatives get.
“To feed 1,000 pieces of fish today, you will need nothing less than N560,000 to N600,000 which is not guaranteed.
“What the aquaculture sector needs is far more different; the funding mechanism for aquaculture is different from funding grains in the poultry industry and rice sector.
“We need to understand the needs of all sectors of farming generally, to be able to draw up programmes that will be beneficial to all,’’ Tiamiyu said.
However, Foluso Dada, Regional Sales Manager, Aller Aqua Nig. Ltd, said the agro firm was currently involved in the ongoing programme in Osun.
Dada said the firm was also working with the Ogun Government on the road map for the aquaculture sub-sector.
“Although, Aller aqua is involved in some of the anchor borrowers’ programmes going on in Osun, we have yet to record any final outcome since it is still ongoing.
“We are also currently working on the road map with Ogun Government.
“The model of funding made available to them is for 3,000 fish and I think it is a sustainable model, because they are not given money.
“They are given inputs in form of fish, feed, and facilities, and there is an off-taker. It is sustainable if we are serious about it,’’ Dada said.
He noted that the programme was still ongoing but that from what was on ground, the firm hoped to get positive results.
The CBN, as part of its developmental functions, established the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 17, 2015.
It is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.
The programme’s thrust is provision of farm inputs and cash to small holder farmers to boost production of these commodities, stabilise inputs supply to agro processors, and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.