The Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) has urged the Federal Government to relocate the Anchor Borrowers’ programmes from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

Chairman, Administrative Board of the group, Kabir Ibrahim, who stated this in Abuja yesterday, explained that while the initiative has been helpful, there are gaps that have been left unfilled.

Ibrahim, who faulted the credibility of the beneficiaries of the programme, alleged that a large percentage of farmers are not benefitting from the programme.

He said: “We urge the CBN to reappraise the anchor borrower scheme. To make the programme more sustainable, it will be good to relocate the programme to the federal ministry of agriculture. What happens to the programme if the next CBN governor does not believe in the programme? We must remember that former CBN governors such as Soludo and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s focus were on the banks and other reforms.

“We must learn to institutionalise interventions and relocating the programme to the ministry will ensure this takes place. The relevant people and ministries that have specific mandates must be allowed to execute the tasks that have been placed on their shoulders.”

While underlining the reason the CBN must work with recognised groups, Ibrahim argued that the farmers that the apex bank is working with on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme are largely unknown saying, “we told the CBN that their target of two million farmers was not realistic as the farmers we have in Nigeria are more than 14.5 million. We also told the CBN that out of the two million farmers they are working with, how were they reached? Are these people real farmers? We added that the CBN should reach the farmers through the farmers’ association that is in a position to give credible information. We have been proven right.”

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Ibrahim, who doubted the impacts of the recently showcased rice pyramid in Abuja, said the show did not have the desired impact on the price of rice.

“Many of you went to the airport to celebrate the rice pyramid. With the advertisement of the pyramid, has the price of rice come down as a result of the pyramid? Is the price of rice cheaper? No. What this means is that the anchor borrower, even though it is a laudable programme, has many gaps that must be filled. Farmers must be able to produce such that the common man on the street feels the impacts of what is produced,” he argued.

Ibrahim noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a good opportunity for Nigeria adding that the African market is very massive and is more than capable of generating direct investment for the continent.

“Sizeable foreign exchange can be generated within the African continent. We believe that Africa can generate as much as it is generating from foreign direct investment from Europe, Asia and the Americas,” he said.

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On his part, the President, NABG, Emmanuel Ijewere, who bemoaned the non-involvement of farmers in policy formulation processes, said most policies on agriculture fail because the target beneficiaries are not carried along at the formative stage.

His words: “How many farmers were consulted when policies on the agriculture sector were developed? Who asks the farmers about their challenges and how the challenges could be tackled to increase their operations? Yes, I know that the CBN meant well but we are trying to further engage them.”

Ijewere submitted that if Nigeria can improve the entire value chain in commodities such as cocoa, ginger, reduce the quantity of maize it is importing and develop its processing capacity backed by law, it can increase the contribution of the agribusiness to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).