Benue farmers have been urged to key into the Federal Government funded Anchor Borrowers Programme in order to close the deficit gap in rice production in the country.
This call was made on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in Makurdi, Benue State during the International Fund for Agricultural Development-Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP) Borrowers Training Programme by the Lead Consultant, Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN), Ibrahim Adamu.
Adamu who noted that many challenges discourage farmers from producing at their best, stated that the Anchor Borrowers Programme initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Bank of Industry (BoI) is aimed at solving those challenges. He added that rice production in the country is at a deficit but that, with the scheme, rice production could be increased to meet the expected six million tonnes to serve the country.
According to him, through the programme, farmers will be supported with finance in the form of agriculture inputs through the BoI to cultivate to specifications of the Anchors, who in turn will support the farmers’ production and sale of produce at rates beneficial to both parties.
Urging farmers to form and register groups as a prerequisite to accessing the facility, the RUFIN Lead Consultant assured farmers that they would benefit from the scheme in the short and long run.
In his remarks, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Benue State, James Anbua, stated that the state government is not relenting in creating an enabling environment for farmers to take advantage of the Anchor Borrowers scheme as it has done for other programmes.
Charging farmers to key into the programme and many others as they come up in order to improve their farming, the Commissioner admonished farmers from cutting corners in the programme.
Earlier, State Programme Coordinator (SPC) of IFAD-VCDP, Emmanuel Igbaukum, stated that the IFAD-VCDP intervention in Benue State had been extended to five more local government areas of Kwande, Katsina Ala, Buruku, Otukpo and Oju, following a pilot scheme initiated by government in Gwer West LGA using the IFAD-VCDP template.
According to the SPC, the new intervention is funded by CBN through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, midwifed by BoI to join ranks with the IFAD-VCDP pilot projects in Gwer East, Ogbadibo, Okpokwu, Guma and Logo LGAs as a measure to boost agriculture in the state and country, especially in rice and cassava production.
Speaking during a technical session to educate the new farmers amongst others on the programme, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Representative, Sylvester Akpenyi, said they were committed to serve smallholder farmers who hitherto were disadvantaged in accessing loans for farming.
He maintained that the smallholder farmers would be trained so as to enable them take farming as a business and get the best out of their Anchor Borrowers Programme arrangement.
In his remark, Sole Administrator, Oju Local Government Council, Austin Okwoche, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues from the benefitting LGAs, stated that the programme was laudable and a thing of great delight as, according to him, it will enable the state to feed its growing population, generate income for farmers and create employment opportunities.
By Damian Daga, Makurdi