BY: ONOME AMUGE
Fundamental radical reforms are being canvassed for President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s flagship agriculture intervention initiative, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
The canvassers, short of calling the programme dodgy, said it has actually left out a lot of farmers in its coverage.
The Group (NABG), which is calling for ABP’s radical reform, urged the federal government to reappraise the programmes and make it more sustainable by transferring its control from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
Kabir Ibrahim, chairman, administrative board of the group, who faulted the credibility of the programme, noted that the initiative has been unable to fill a lot of gaps while a large percentage of farmers are yet to enjoy its benefits.
Further justifying the bid to relocate the programme from the CBN’s control, Ibrahim said; “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,” said Ibrahim.
He also argued that the farmers that CBN is working with on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme are largely unknown while the apex bank’s target of two million farmers was not realistic being that the farmers in Nigeria are over 14.5 million.
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, an indication that the anchor borrower, though 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.
On his part, Emmanuel Ijewere, president, NABG, questioned the non-involvement of farmers in policy formulation processes, saying that most policies on agriculture fail because the target beneficiaries are not carried along at the formative stage.
Ijewere submitted that Nigeria can improve the entire value chain in commodities such as cocoa, ginger, sesame, develop its processing capacity and increase the contribution of the agribusiness to the gross domestic product (GDP), if more farmers are being engaged and appropriate steps taken to address their challenges and increase operations.