The Anchor Borrowers’ Program (ABP) was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015 and was targeted at creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the process of selecting key agricultural commodities and small holder farmers.
The focus of ABP is to provide seed to farmers and cash to grow the crops. This will help to boost production of the selected commodities and make sure there is constant supply of the commodities to the agro processors.
The produce of farmers benefiting from ABP, after harvest, is supplied to the Agro-processor (Anchor) who pays the cash equivalent to your bank account.
The programme targets farmers who produce cereals (Rice, Maize, wheat etc.); Roots and Tubers (Cassava, Potatoes, Yam, Ginger etc.); Tree crops (Oil palm, Cocoa, Rubber etc.); Legumes (Soybean, Sesame seed, Cowpea etc.); Livestock (Fish, Poultry, Ruminants etc.). Others include: Cotton, Sugarcane, Tomato, etc.
The fund given to the farmers are by no means free money. The participating banks, which work with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) lend to Anchors at 9 per cent per annum for onward disbursement to the farmers. The loan is repaid by the farmers after the crops have been harvested with the harvested crops which must cover the loan principal and interest.
Nigeria is a large producer of maize with an average production of about 8 million tons of maize annually which is the largest produced in Sub Saharan Africa.
Maize is an important cereal which most families in Nigeria use as basic food for both domestic consumption and also serves as animal feed.
Maize farmers in Nigeria are faced with a lot of challenges which include lack of fund to purchase farm inputs, attacks by pests and diseases on the farm and so many others.
These challenges led to farmer apathy towards maize production and maize was not produced in commercial quantity to feed the industries, instead, industries import maize to meet up with production, Maize farmers were relegated to subsistence farming.
But the narrative changed when the ABP was launched, Maize farmers were provided with money through the program and over 100,000 maize farmers were captured and empowered.
Recently, a Company applied to import maize for industrial purposes, but the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) kicked against it, saying that they (Maize farmers) can produce enough Maize through the ABP to satisfy local demand.
The National President of MAAN Bello Abubakar while addressing journalists, urged the intending importers of maize to key into the ADP, access loan at single digit, source Maize locally and create jobs.
“Maize Association of Nigeria is executing the ABP in 19 states that empowered more than one hundred (100,000) on and off-farm employment. This modest contribution of MAAN if complemented by large scale Maize grain users, will comfortably create more than one million on and off-farm employment in the maize sector alone”.
“Therefore, request for an actual importation of maize grain in any form is considered counterproductive to the agricultural development of Nigeria and should be discouraged in its entirety.
“Private entities hoping to continuously use Maize in large quantity should therefore be desirous of partnering and contributing to ongoing government efforts in agricultural development”, Abubakar said.
The MAAN President said in the last 4 years, Maize farmers grew in number from 1.2 million to 5 million with increase in maize production from 15 millions tons to 20 million tons recently.
“From year 2015 to 2018, MAAN has increased from 1.2 million to 5 million members across the country. Also the Association enjoyed great improvement in extension services which has helped farmers in new farming techniques, hence increase in farmer output.
“Within the first year of participating in the present administration agricultural program, we have been able to acquire 128 numbers of tractors with full farming implements.
“Permit me to give you good news that the maize production has increased from 15 million metric tonnes in 2015 to 20million metric tonnes in 2018. This great leap in production was achieved through provision of good, high yielding and farm inputs through the CBN Anchor Borrower Programme” he said
Since the inception of the ABP, Maize farmers have accessed about N3 billion which was disbursed by the CBN through the Bank of Agriculture.
Just recently, the Maize farmers met in Daura, Katsina state to kick off the repayment process of initial N1.2 billion loan they accessed from CBN, this will enable them to access more funds in the future.
The Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Kabiru Umar said that MAAN had promised an initial repayment of N1.2 billion soon, while the other repay my will follow subsequently.
According to Umar, “what we are expecting as initial repayment is N1.2 billion, like the President of MAAN has said which he promised me, by this week (last week) they will make that repayment to the bank”
He explained “MAAN got about N3 billion during the first season. The agreement we have with them is that repayment will be 30 per cent initial repayment, then 40 percent during the second season and then 30 percent during the last season, so with the N1.2 billion they have made promised to repay, we will closely monitor them, we will still support them for the next season”.
In Nigeria, commercial banks are known for their unwillingness to give loan to farmers because of the perceived risk. Even when farmers eventually secure the loan from commercial banks, the interest is always in double digit.
But the Anchor Borrowers Program simplified the process by making the money available to commercial banks through the CBN, and farmers access these funds with ease and at a single digit interest rate.
In the case of Maize Association of Nigeria, the CBN disbursed their money through the Bank of Agriculture, and they (MAAN) numbering over 5 million are allowed to access the fund.
The National President of MAAN Abubakar, while speaking with his members at Daura, Katsina state, told them to ensure they repay their loan else they would be sanctioned.
While calling on banks to continue to support maize farmers, Abubakar called for total ban of maize importation in Nigeria, stressing that the maize farmers in Nigeria can produce enough Maize grains to service local demand.
“This state of the program is very crucial, it is the most important State because the repayment of the loan would set the state of our continued participation due to the trust that we would built with the Bank.
“If Katsina State alone, in fact an area considered not a Maize belt can produce such huge quantity of maize grains, you can imagine what, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Saki in Oyo State would have in stock for the maize users.
“It is therefore our prayers that the federal government should ban the importation of maize into the country.
“Banks should also partner with us by making loans available to MAAN members. Also, all Maize users are strongly advised to partner with us for the supply of any type of quantity of maize needed, we assure you that we will meet your needs, we have done it in 2016 through doubling of maize program.
“That there is no enough Maize in the country is not true, we can produce more than enough in our country, let the maize users ask and it shall be produced. I want to call, on all the beneficiaries his program to quickly submit their produce and repay their loan on due, as MAAN will not spare any member who defaulted”, Abubakar noted.
Anchor Borrowers Program have been a success in Maize production in Nigeria, in fact Nigerian Maize farmers have really felt the presence of government through this program. It is however important for farmers to ensure that they repay their loans so that the banks can lend more.
The government on the other hand should strengthen the ABP, widen the coverage to accommodate more farmers and device more means to get the farmers to repay their loans, impose stiffer penalties for defaulters.
Source: Nigerian Tribune