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Kano farmers hail Anchor Borrowers Programme, seek increased funding for agriculture

Farmers in Kano State have hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) ongoing Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) but tasked government to increase funding for the agriculture sector.

They said this is to ensure increased productivity and galvanise the drive to make Nigeria food sufficient by 2030, in line with the 2030 zero-hunger agenda.

The chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Farouk Rabiu, and other farmers spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in Kano.

In 2015, the Nigeria government introduced the ABP through which loans and farm inputs are given to small and medium scale farmers in order to boost agricultural output.

Mr Rabiu said ABP has helped more farmers to go into agriculture as a business, and contribute to meeting up with the consumption need of the Nigerian populace.

He said the programme has also helped farmers to be more competitive, as their productivity is expected to increase greatly.

He said AFAN was enjoying the support of the federal government through the ABP.

He called on the government to ignore calls for stopping the programming, saying those making the calls are not aware of the progress being made by the farmers.

Many of the farmers who benefitted from the ABP across Nigeria have defaulted in the payment of their loans.

The AFAN boss, however, said it is not true that farmers had refused to pay back the loans. He said the ABP has helped farmers to increase farm yields, especially in rice farming “where we now produce 95 per cent of rice eaten in the country and are creating more jobs in the country through its value chain.”

Mr Rabiu said instead of spending one trillion naira annually on the importation of wheat from Russia and America, the government should grant the request of farmers to fund the Wheat Anchor Borrowers Programme.

He said with N20 billion, the programme would cultivate 100,000 hectares of land for wheat production, and create one million direct and indirect jobs in Nigeria.

‘’We urge the government to fund the wheat farmers which is part of the commodity targeted by the programme.

“Nigerians are impatient with farmers, expecting immediate success, which is not possible. It takes a process to achieve the expected success,” he said.

Mr Rabiu said the support of the programme has enabled farmers to produce more. “This has helped us to crash the price of some food commodities in Nigeria,” he said.

Also speaking, the chairman of Apex Smallholder Farmers, Musa Kura, called on the government to increase its funding for the sector.

“if inputs can get to farmers on time, farmers will be able to plan ahead of the planting season and also increase productivity all year round,” he said

However, another farmer, Saadu Ali, said the issue of input has been a major challenge for him as a farmer. He said the government is yet to meet the need of farmers in that respect, as most times inputs arrive late, which has made him lose so much over the years.

“Government should be proactive in its drive by ensuring that farmers get the best of inputs for planting at the right time,” he said.