Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Central of Nigeria (CBN) has called on beneficiaries of anchor borrowers’ programme for rice production in Cross River, to pay back their loans to enable other rice farmers in the state to benefit from the programme.
The state branch controller of CBN, Mr Chuks Sokari, who made the call at the inauguration of Wet Season Rice farming in the state by Gov. Ben Ayade at the weekend in Calabar, said he had received some complaints from some banks and farmers’ association that the beneficiaries hadn’t paid up till date.
Sokari said: “My colleagues from the banks, NEXIM and then president of RFAN have emphasised the need for those who have benefited from the intervention by way of loans to repay because this is very important.
“It is not an endless thing, so the CBN needs you to reciprocate by paying back at least a maximum of nine per cent single digit interest on every loan that you take and so we expect that if you do that, we will reach out to the others who have not benefited and they are so many and we want to bring them on board.
“You also remember that CBN is very much involved in financial inclusion. So, the small farmer who is out there who benefits from this kind of activity has been included and with him or her, the retinue of dependants.’’
According to him, the CBN’s policy of exempting 41 items from import list introduced by the governor of the bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele, in 2014 was yielding tremendous results, especially in the area of rice.
“Today it is a celebration of excellence when it comes to discussing our import reduction related to such commodities as rice.
“If you want to reduce import and sustain for a reasonable length of time, stable foreign exchange, it is through this, if you want to increase output, it is through this; if you want us to have respect in the committee of nations as producing what we eat, this is it, ‘’ he said.
He noted that the governor of CBN is very interested in anything agriculture, and commended the seriousness of Cross River State government in projecting agriculture as the mainstay of its economy.
Meanwhile, a cross-section of rice farmers in the state has denied benefiting from the programme even after their enrolment.
A farmer, Mr Godshield Kanjal, said he was given inputs and promised that he would access the loan for the rice farming but he waited endlessly without collecting the loan.
“I supposed to be among the beneficiaries because I got inputs to prepare for the rice farming proper but unfortunately, I could not access the loan for reasons which I could not understand, ‘’ he said.
He alleged that some politicians hijacked the programme for their selfish interest.
“I think some politicians hijacked that programme because the real rice farmers in the state did not benefit from the loan. I know many of the rice farmers who had the same problem and did not collect the loans, ‘’ he said.