Farmers are currently putting pressure on the Federal Government to ask the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the loan repayment for the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) due to disruption of crop production caused by worsening insecurity across the country.
This follows the call by the CBN that the beneficiaries of the ABP, its flagship agricultural intervention scheme should repay their loans so that other farmers can benefit from the scheme.
However, according to a report from the Punch, the farmers have said that repaying the loans now would be difficult due to a drop in revenue caused by the security challenges. They said that farmers were finding it difficult to access their farmlands and as such, had very limited products to market.
What the farmers are saying
The National President, Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Edwin Uche said, “The government should extend the loan repayment period for farmers. It should prevail on CBN to give farmers a longer period to repay the loans.
“The 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 to 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 the Covid-19 pandemic 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 such as 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 by 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 field, there’s no how they can get money to repay the loans.”
The National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabir Ibrahim, said 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.
He said, “A large number of our farmers are affected by this. People must understand the negative impact of insecurity on our food value chain and other agricultural related activities. We are losing so much because of this.’’
“This is why many farmers are calling for an extension of the repayment period, but we are encouraging them to pay back.”
What you should know
It can be recalled that earlier in May, Nigerian farmers and some stakeholders in the agriculture sector appealed to the Federal Government to intensify efforts in curbing banditry, kidnapping and terrorism, as the worsening security situation is threatening food security in the country.
They noted that the recent increase in kidnapping and banditry had made many farmers run from their farmlands in search of safe hideouts.