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Can CBN recover unsecuritized ABP’s loans in the north as it targets N’Delta rice farmers?

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More than two weeks after the news broke that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is dragging about 70,000 rice farmers in Kebbi State to court for defaulting Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the bank, the apex bank has again, given fresh signal to facing farmers in the core revenue base of the country, the Niger Delta.

Aside remaining mute over efforts to recover the over N500bn so far disbursed across the northern region for farmers, Business Hilights recalls that in its drive to recover ABP’s loan given to rice farmers in Yobe State, it asked Local Government Areas to form loan recovery bodies to help in recovering the loans.

Before now, several development economists had blamed the apex bank for giving out unsecuritised facilities with the aim of recovering same.

Findings revealed that one of the key reasons why the Federal Government remained silent in controlling the price of rice was to allow farmers to sell at any price they like so as to be able to pay back their ABP’s loans.

Since the closure of land borders principally to tame rice smuggling, prices of local rice in Nigeria had been over and above the reach of many Nigerians. Latest market price survey revealed most local rice brands sell for between N17,000 and N21,000 while smuggled foreign rice sells for about N23,000 or a little less.

However, fact checks showed that repayment of loans by northern rice farmers had been unsatisfactory but the apex bank is finding it hard to open up on the challenges in recovering ABP loans from rice farmers.

On the sudden turn to support Niger Delta rice farmers, the CBN, which seems to have dumped ABP for Niger Delta farmers, said it would offer single-digit loan to rice farmers in the Niger Delta area and provide index insurance for participating farmers.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Head, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Patricia Deworitshe.

The statement was issued after a second collaborative meeting between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswil Akpabio, and representatives of the CBN in Abuja.

Giving further insights on its plans for the revenue base of the nation, Deworitshe, the representative of the CBN Governor at the meeting, Mr Anthony Ifechukwu, said that the CBN in 2018 identified cassava, rice, oil palm and cocoa farming as those with comparative advantage in the region, adding that the apex bank was also making effort to intervene in livestock and fishery production in the region.

CBN averred that “Ifechukwu also assured participating farmers of a guaranteed market price for their produce, explaining that the bank would give a single-digit interest loan for five years.

“He advised eligible farmers willing to participate in the scheme to procure quality seedlings from reputable companies and plant their crops in clusters, adding that CBN will do index insurance for participating farmers.”

Representative of the Niger Delta Minister and Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Adesola Olusade, noted that the resolve of the ministry to key into the agricultural revolution in partnership with the CBN was to create massive jobs that would employ youths and grow the region’s economy.

Business Hilights is an online news channel conceptualized and structured to report and track on a daily basis; latest developments in critical business sectors to serve as a one stop news gateway for governments, foreign and indigenous investors.