The Forum for Agricultural Commodities Association presidents have urged President Bola Tinubu to revive the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, noting that many gains of the programme are now near moribund.
While lamenting that the apex bank stopped supporting farmers under the ABP scheme since 2020, the organisation urged the president to ensure that he uses his good office to ensure that the needful is done on the matter.
Speaking at a press conference, yesterday, in Abuja, the Chairman of the forum, Alhaji Sadiq Daware, said that reviving the ABP and other intervention programmes like the Flood Emergency Intervention Programme (FEIP) would go a long way in tackling the myriad of challenges facing the agricultural sector.
He urged the president to direct the CBN or Ministry of Finance to urgently provide funds to farmers for the 2023-2024 wet and dry season farming, adding that “this should be treated as a top priority and acted upon expeditely”.
He said: “Your excellency, it would interest you to know that despite the many gains of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the programme is now near moribund as no smallholder or medium scale farmer has accessed the fund since 2020. This is a very sad commentary as the progress made in the production of food commodities for food security and import substitution are being reversed rapidly. Deliberate effort must be made to stop this ugly trend and put agriculture on the right trajectory for economic growth. We are equally convinced that you would use your good office to ensure that the needful is done on this matter”, he stated.
According to Deware, despite the fact that the immediate past government set up the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to facilitate seamless access to quality fertilizer at an affordable price by farmers, it has not served the farmers for the past two years.
This is yet another anomaly, Deware said the president should correct.
Speaking on the removal of subsidy on petroleum products, Deware drew the attention of the president to what he described as “agelong lopsided treatment of issues that have to do with the welfare and wellbeing of our teeming farmers.”
He said the organisation has noted with dismay that organised labour is given too much attention during discussions for palliatives that could cushion the impact of some government policies.
“Whereas the organised labour is looking out for its interest as consumers, our farmers, whose production would be impacted negatively by the policies are never invited to the table of negotiations or targeted for palliatives. It is a given, that by population, farmers outnumber the members of the organised labour or any other union by a long shot and are a significant majority.
“Thus, we wish to request, most humbly, that this lop-sided be addressed and the cries of the farmers heard at such a time like this. As practitioners in the largest production sector in Nigeria, it is our sincere hope that going forward, the farmers that we represent would be accorded the recognition they rightly deserve on matters of national importance. We feel it is our place to plan for me without me”, he stated.
Deware urged the government to provide support to victims of flood across the country under the FEIP initiative and the support to affected farmers should be given directly to them.
He also recommended that the “government should increase support to the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative and expand it to the Presidential Fertilizer and Agro-Inputs Initiative.
“Government should consider engaging Agricultural Commodity Associations as farmers representatives when matters of critical national importance are being discussed”.