As farming activities gather momentum amid financial and input challenges, farmers in Nigeria have called on the Federal Government to spread the coverage of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to every state of the country.
Although the country is said to be deficient in the two commodities, production have increased significantly through the ABP.
The apex bank has spent N864 billion on 4.1 million farmers cultivating 5.02 million hectares through the so far.
The farmers include grain, cereal, cassava, cocoa, yam and sweet potato farmers, among others.
The farmers lamented that seeds, fertilizer and other inputs for food crop production have become too expensive, and escalating assistance to them through the ABP scheme is not only desirable but also expedient for the country.
The umbrella body of various commodity associations in Nigeria, the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), said without deepening various existing funding systems and intervention programmes of the apex bank, improved seeds, fertilizer and other agro-chemicals that would help farmers to produce adequate quantity of food would be a mirage.
Linking more off-takers, financial institutions and insurers to empower more farmers with inputs and finances with pre-agreed buy-back prices should be spread to every state, the association disclosed.
“Without such assistance, most farmers, due to financial constraints, would only recycle grains as seeds, avoid use of fertiliser and agro-chemicals and would do manual tillage, planting and weeding with resultant poor yields,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently disclosed that it would finance the cultivation of 600,000 hectares of grains in the 2022 wet season farming.
The partnership between the CBN and Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) through the ABP had produced a total of 300 metric tonnes in 2021, which were displayed in 12 pyramids and released to the market through allocations to food and agro-allied stakeholders.
Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) rice pyramids in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said the ABP had supported over 4.8 million small-scale farmers with planting inputs and market linkages that have boosted their means of livelihood and food production, saying, “The ABP has so far supported over 4.8 million smallholder farmers across Nigeria for the production of 23 agricultural commodities, including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato, and livestock. Today, rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tonnes annually.”
Nigeria produces about 12.0 million tonnes of maize, while yearly demand hovers around 20.0 million metric tonnes, fueling hike in price, and productivity of farmers has remained as low as 1.5 to 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare.
A former Vice Chancellor of Al-Qalam University and grain breeder, Katsina, Prof. Shehu Garki Ado, said better seeds, farming innovations, and other critical inputs that could boost productivity of farmers have become unaffordable, hence the need for immediate interventions.