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Agric Lending: African Countries Adopt Nigeria’s Scheme

African countries are borrowing a leaf from Nigeria in Agricultural lending to improve food production.  

The Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending has been adopted by leaders on the continent to promote agriculture in their various countries.

The Executive Director, Corporate and Commercial Services, Bank of Industry, Mr. Jonathan Tobin, says the African leaders agreed to adopt the scheme during a recent workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, organised by the African Development Bank, with the theme, ‘Establishing agriculture risk sharing and financing mechanism for Africa’.

“The beauty of the conference is that Nigeria was celebrated as having taken a step forward in terms of de-risking the agricultural sector of the economy. And so, the Nigerian model, which is NISRAL, is now to be adopted by the entire continent as a model for de-risking and financing agriculture,” Tobin said.

While making a presentation on the Anchor Borrowers Programme, which was launched by the Federal Government in November 2015 to link smallholder farmers to the integrated rice scheme and to boost local production of rice, the BoI executive director remarked that the programme was successful, especially in Kebbi State.

Tobin, who was the pioneer project director of the programme, said 78,000 rural farmers in Kebbi State benefited from the programme, which was done in collaboration with NISRAL, and used   integrated rice millers as off takers to ensure that there was a ready market for the produce.

The anchor borrower programme, which was designed to increase rice and wheat output, has been extended to cover 14 states.

Some of the states to benefit from the initiative, according to Tobin, are Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Cross River and Niger.

He said the decision to extend the programme to the 14 states was because of the success recorded during the pilot programme in Kebbi State where about 78,000 farmers were empowered to boost rice production.

He said through the programme, the governors of the 14 states would be encouraged to ramp up production of rice, wheat and fish.

Tobin said a presidential committee had been set up to ensure the implementation of the initiative in the 14 states.

Under the programme, the CBN had set aside N40bn out of the N220bn Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund to be given to farmers at single-digit interest rate of nine per cent per annum.

Based on the scheme, smallholder farmers are entitled to loans ranging from N150,000 to N250,000 to assist them in procuring necessary agricultural inputs like seedlings, fertilizers and pesticides, among others, to help boost agricultural outputs and productivity.

Tobin explained that through the anchor borrower programme, the apex bank had been able to create economic linkages between farmers and processors.

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