Disruptions in cultivation and staying away from farms due to worsening insecurity in the country has made Nigerian farmers under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) doubt their capacity to repay their loans as and when due.
The farmers insist that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should give them more time for the loan repayment received under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). AFAN’s plea is coming on the heels of CBN’s directive that beneficiaries, who obtained loans under ABP, its flagship agricultural intervention funds for agric sector, should repay to enable other farmers benefit from the scheme.
The scheme, which began in 2015, has so far extended loans amounting to N554.61 billion, according to the apex bank. The farmers’ association emphasised that insecurity ravaging the country’s agricultural architecture had forced many of its members to abandon their farms, while others have lost huge profits running into billions of naira to disruption by bandits and Fulani herdsmen. National President of AFAN, Kabiru Ibrahim, told New Telegraph that the challenges caused by the worsening insecurity had forced many farmers to default in loan repayment to commercial banks.
Ibrahim explained that it was becoming difficult on a daily basis for Nigerian farmers to access their farmlands, adding that this was seriously affecting their commitments to repay the ABP loans due to drop in revenue caused by worsening security challenges. According to him, since many farmers are scared to access their farmlands, they are having very limited agricultural products for the market. He stated that in this period, the Federal Government must understand the impact of insecurity on food production and how this had whittled down the capacity of farmers to repay loans collected under ABP.
“A large number of our farmers are affected by this. So, people must understand the negative impact of insecurity on our food value chain and other agricultural related activities. “We are losing so much to this. That is why many farmers are calling for an extension of the repayment period, but we are encouraging them to pay back.” On his part, the National Presi-dent of Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Edwin Uche, had earlier also said: “Government should extend the loan repayment period for Nigerian farmers. It should prevail on CBN to give farmers a longer period to repay the loans.
Government should think of devising other measures of supporting our farmers; it must not come as loan. We are talking about development finance, providing support to rural dwellers. “There must be a way of giving these farmers inputs as a form of support to enable them move from where they are to the next level without asking them to pay back.
There must be some sort of soft landing for farmers.” Uche noted that COVID-19 and its impact on the global economy had made many countries support their industries, including agriculture, adding that farmers have also been badly hit by the insecurity situation in the country. He said: “The whole world witnessed COVID-19 and most countries are giving support to key industries like agriculture.
Many countries lost some of their produce and they had to support the farmers. “This support was not by giving farmers short term loans, but by providing long- term loans and also giving grants, because you can’t repay a loan when your business is not thriving. “Loans are basically paid when a business is thriving or when an economy is doing well and when the conditions are right. But right now, we are struggling with a lot of economic and social factors in Nigeria and insecurity is one of them. “And if the farmers can’t get access to their produce on the fields there’s no how they can get money to repay the loans.”
Recall that CBN said in March that about 3.8 million farmers had so far benefited from ABP. The Director, Development Finance Department of the bank, Yila Yusuf, said N554.61 billion had been disbursed through the programme since its inception in 2015. He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the initiative to start the programme. He said the programme had done a lot to help farmers improve their yields and generate employment. “We have to commend President Buhari for putting the ABP in place. Over 3.8 million farmers have so far benefited from the programme. “The multiplier effect on the economy is huge.
“The ABP has helped farmers improve their yields. For maize, we now do five metric tonnes per hectare and for rice, we’re improving from four metric tonnes to 10 metric tonnes per hectare. “We will be trying out some Brazilian seeds that we will give to the anchors and their association,” he said.