One of the federal government’s intervention programmes which has recorded huge success in recent years is the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme. Under it, the CBN collaborated with local farmers through state governments to promote agricultural production across the country. First to benefit from the programme were some states in the northern part of the country with good fadamas that could support large-scale rice production.
The programme was later extended to some other states in the south east and south-south geopolitical zones of the country, also for large scale rice production. The huge success of the programme enabled many state governments that keyed- in to the programme to bring down the high price of rice in the markets especially this year. The success of the programme has also emboldened some local and foreign investors to go into large scale rice production and processing in the country.
Following its successful intervention in large scale rice production and as part of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the CBN has again introduced the Broiler Out growers scheme in Lagos State in collaboration with the Lagos State Government, Amo farms, a local poultry feeds producer and Sieberer Hatchery Limited to fund broiler production in the state.
In introducing the new scheme, 10 poultry out grower farmers were given 1,000 birds each and enough food to last the birds for 42 days. The scheme was an instant success because Amo farms, the supplier of the feeds, will buy back the broilers at a pre- agreed price from the out grower farmers when they reach maturity. Such interventions by the CBN and other interested bodies are expected to encourage young people who are interested in agricultural production but lack the take off funds to embrace agriculture through the intervention scheme.
Such interventions are needed because peasant farmers who form the bulk of the nation’s cash and food crop producers are now aged, while agricultural production has suffered a setback in the last few decades owing to the ascendancy of oil as the nation’s major source of foreign exchange and the consequent reduced attention paid to agriculture, among other factors. But, with government’s recent avowed interest in diversifying the nation’s economy away from oil, the government needs more young men and women to move into agricultural production using modern implements, machinery and financial support in the form of take off funds to increase agricultural production for local consumption and for the export market.
We therefore see the CBN’s intervention tagged Anchor Borrowers programme as very timely and a move in the right direction. It should be executed with vigour. We also believe that it should be carried to all states in the country. In doing this every state should pick two crops where it has comparative advantage over other states and one animal husbandry product that it wants the scheme to support.
However, each state government must be the guarantors of the recipient farmers in its domain. It should also use its agricultural extension workers to monitor the participating farmers to ensure that they comply with the terms of the contract and that the farmers pay back the money advanced to them as and when due without fail.
We believe that if properly monitored, the programme could be the tonic needed to make the country self sufficient in food production and also become a net exporter of many agricultural products.