The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in its resolve to achieve a strong and viable agricultural base with more integrated value chains, enhanced food security, fewer imports and higher productivity, has listed the conditions for accessing its Anchor programme loan.
The loan, which will come from the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, MSMEDF, will be given to farmers at nine percent per annum interest rate to address the challenge of poor funding facing them. This plan, according to CBN, is in addition to NIRSAL’s capacity building to farmers and bankers.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, during an interaction with rice farmers in Awka, Anambra State, said the idea behind the Anchor Borrowers programme initiative is to diversify the economy by addressing the issue of local production of agricultural products that reduces the nation’s for-eign reserve.
Emefiele, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Development Finance, Mr. Paul Eluhaiwe, identified lack of mechanisation, low quality inputs and poor funding as major hindrances to rice production in Nigeria but stressed that the programme was aimed at solving the problem of finance. On the conditions for accessing the loan, the CBN boss said the farmers will be thoroughly trained on the global best agro-nomical practices.
“The farmers must be a member of a validated cooperative before applying for the loan. We will find out how much it will take to produce one hectare of rice to determine the amount that will be given to each individual.
The idea is to enhance efficient management of the resources” he said. The Managing Director of Ebonyi Agro Nigeria limited and the Major Off-Taker of the programme in Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra State, Engr. Charlce Ugwu, lamented that Nigeria consumed about 6 metric tons of rice yearly but produced only 3.5 metric tons at about $3 billion.
He noted that the two paddy aggregation centres in Anambra State will be made more viable, promising that his group will buy all the rice produced in the state through this programme.
Even as he enjoined farmers to utilise the opportunity offered by the programme to increase their yield. In his remarks, Governor Willie Obiano, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, thanked the CBN and the Off-taker for the initiative and called on the farmers in the value chain to ensure that they are revalidated.
He emphasised that the State government had made tractors available for farmers and had also distributed seedlings and fertilizers and other inputs with a view to improving their productivity and higher returns on their investments.