OPINION

The A, B, Cs Of FG’s N220bn Agric Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme, By John Mayaki

For citizens of Edo State who aren’t in the know of the Federal Government’s N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund – agriculture anchor borrowers’ scheme, and how they can benefit, this will serve as a guideline and why they should avail themselves of this window capable of enhancing their economic independence.

The programme run under the federal government is introduced as `Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP)’ and the guidelines would be regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). ABP, which is a federal government agriculture intervention programme initiative is designed to encourage growth of the sector in all states of the nation.

Launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, it is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.

The programme thrust of the ABP is provision of farm inputs in kind and cash to SHFs to boost production of these commodities, stabilize inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.

At harvest, the SHF supplies his/her produce to the Agro-processor- the Anchor, who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account. The Programme evolved from the consultations with stakeholders comprising Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, State Governors, millers of agricultural produce, and SHFs and the aim was to boost agricultural production and non-oil exports in the face of unpredictable crude oil prices and its resultant effect on the revenue profile of Nigeria.

The broad objective of the ABP is to create economic linkage between smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilization of processors.

Other objectives include: Increase banks’ financing to the agricultural sector, reduce agricultural commodity importation and conserve external reserves Increase capacity utilization of agricultural firms.

It is also to create new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs, employment, deepen the cashless policy and financial inclusion, reduce the level of poverty among smallholder farmers and assist rural smallholder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production levels.

The targeted beneficiaries of the loan include smallholder farmers engaged in the production of identified commodities across the country.

The Farmers are expected to be in groups/ cooperative(s) of between five and 20 for ease of administration, while the eligible Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) intend that the loan shall be disbursed through any of these PFIs: Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs.)

Details from the CBNs website says the programme shall be private large scale integrated processors who have entered into an agreement with the SHFs to off-take the harvested produce at the agreed prices or as may be reviewed by the PMT.

State Governments may act as Anchor upon meeting the prescribed conditions. The input suppliers shall submit expression of interest letter to the office of the PMT for consideration and issuance of local purchase orders. Loan amount for each SHF shall be arrived upon from the economics of production agreed with stakeholders. Interest Rate under the ABP shall be guided by the rate on the N220 billion MSMEDF, which is currently at 9% P/A (all inclusive, pre and post disbursement).

The PFIs shall access at 2% from the CBN and lend at a maximum of 9% p.a. Meanwhile, the CBN, said the objective of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) was to create economic linkage between smallholders and reputable large scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilization of processors.

The guidelines, posted on the apex bank website, said that the aim of the programme was to increase banks’ financing to the agricultural sector, reduce agricultural commodity importation and conserve external reserves.

“It will equally increase capacity utilization of agricultural firms as well as create new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs and employment.’’ According to CBN, “ it will deepen the cashless policy and financial inclusion, reduce the level of poverty among smallholder farmers and assist rural peasant farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production levels.’’

The bank disclosed that the targeted agricultural commodities include, cereals (rice, maize, wheat etc.), cotton, roots and tubers (cassava, potatoes, yam, ginger among others).

Others are; sugarcane, tree crops (oil palm, cocoa, rubber etc.), legumes (soybean, sesame seed, cowpea etc.), tomato, livestock (fish, poultry, ruminants).

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