Central Bank threatens to sanction banks delaying loans to farmers

Uche Usim, Abuja

Banks caught delaying the disbursement of funds to eligible farmers under the Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP) will be severely sanctioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the CBN indicated Tuesday, saying the development conflicts with its efforts to guarantee food security in the country.

CBN Director of Development Finance, Mr Yusuf Yila, made the announcement at a stakeholders’ meeting involving Anchor, Processors, Commodity Associations and Banks in Abuja.

According to Yila, the CBN has received disturbing complaints on late disbursement of earmarked funds by some banks, despite the fact that the money was released on time to them; thus threatening to derail the programme.

He assured that the CBN will be more involved in the selection of input suppliers, to ensure that only reliable ones are engaged.

Yila added that the suppliers will be put on stand-by to replace those that were found wanting.

He described the 2020 dry season as the biggest since the commencement of the ABP in 2015 and sought the cooperation of all stakeholders to make it a success, to insulate the country from food crisis.

He revealed that the apex bank will share the losses of farmers on its ABP on equal basis should such loses occur within a farming season.

He said that the decision to share risks equally with farmers demonstrates CBN’s commitment to drive food sufficiency in Nigeria.

He said for this year’s dry season farming, the focus will be on rice maize and tomatoes.

He added that the CBN wants to improve yields of aforementioned crops as the failure of dry season farming could vandalize its food security efforts.

Already the prices of these commodities have spiked in the markets, just as Yila assured that the Bank was willing to finance the wheat farming in Nigeria.

He called on farmers who are willing to go into wheat farming to get viable fields for the CBN to finance it.

‘We are also doing pilot for wheat and the CBN willl fund it” he said adding that the CBN is willing to support the Nigerian farmers to do the 6 million metric tones of wheat Nigeria imports annually,’ he stated.

The forum was aimed to get all stakeholders bare their mind as to what challenges they face in driving dry season farming and to also expose CBN 2020 dry season programme.

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