CBN’s Anchor Borrower’s rescue mission in agric sector


Maize farmers are unable to meet the required local consumption capacity. The price of the commodity has thus jumped up, a situation that made the Poultry Farmers Association (PAN) agitate for importation of maize into the country to augment local production. However, maize farmers and processors under the auspices of Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) Maize Growers, Farmers and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAGFAMAN) opposed this move on the basis that it would be counter-productive to maize value chain.

MAAN National President Dr. Bello Abubakar explained that the agitation was a calculated attempt to further hinder maize production in Nigeria, adding that the high price of maize grains in the country was occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic that struck and disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of inputs for many farming activities. He explained that the increase in the price of the commodity was also traceable to hoarding by some individuals, which resulted in artificial scarcity.

“The agitation by some associations including the Poultry Association of Nigeria seeking authorised dealers and the general public to import maize grain from the official foreign exchange market is seen as a calculated attempt to further hinder maize production in Nigeria.”

To bridge the gap, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) released 50,000MT of maize grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve to cushion the effect.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said: “The CBN facilitated the release of the 50,000 metric tonnes of maize in the second week of February has made an impact as the maize market has recorded a reduction in price from N200, 000 per metric tonnes to about N180,000 per metric tonnes. It is still anticipated that the current will further reduce.”

He listed major beneficiaries of the February release to include Premier Flour Mills, Crown–Olam, Grand Cereals, Animal Care, Amobyn and Hybrid Feeds.

Others are Zartech, Wacot, Sayeed Farms, Pandagri Novum and Premium Farms as well as the Southwest, Southsouth, Northwest and Northcentral chapters of the PAN.

He explained that the CBN was working on mitigating the effect of the shortfall, which was also attributed to banditry, drought, hoarding and insecurity around the major maize producing belt of Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Kano states.

The apex bank explained that as part of the bank’s financing framework, “the CBN facilitates the funding of maize farmers and processors through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) Commodity Association, Private/Prime Anchors, State Governments, Maize Aggregation Scheme (MAS), and the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS).”

Abubakar said: “We believe that not acceding to maize importation will aid not just attaining food security as a nation but also in creating job opportunities and fostering economic development as well. “Finally, the action will increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, increase job opportunities and safeguard rural livelihoods.”

The National President, Maize Growers, Farmers, and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, (MAGFAMAN), Dr. Edwin Uche, said demand would be met with 25 million metric tonnes of maize before the end of 2021.

Uche said: “The associations have the capacity to grow maize for both industrial use and local consumption. We are going beyond two seasons of farming and we are looking at a situation we grow maize all year round.

“We have strategically developed capacity for maize production in Nigeria to bridge the gap in the maize value chain, existing in the maize production circle. Today we would not be discussing this; if not for the advent of COVID-19 that affected food chain, production globally we will not be talking about the price increase in maize per bag, or increase in feed, flour and all the derivatives from maize.”

He explained that most of the interventions by the CBN take time to mature, noting that within a short time the price of maize would stabilise in the market.

“We are also doing our best to block individuals who are making maize availability difficult for our people. We have maize stored by those who are driving maize merchants in our system. And we are developing the strategic framework, implementation strategies to be able to block these people from buying from our smallholder farmers and hoarding them to cause unnecessary scarcity,” Uche said.

The Chief Executive Officer, AFEX Company, Mr. Ayodeji Balogun, said “by facilitating the release of the 300,000MT maize, leveraging support from credible players in the ecosystem, including our team at AFEX, the CBN will offer over 35,000 farmers and agro-processors a channel through which they can trade maize at a subsidised rate, and thereby reduce the adverse effect of the maize price hike, increase local demand, and improve farmers’ livelihoods”.

According to him with maize being a core food basket, the allocation of the commodity to smallholder farmers and prime anchors would create a sustainable availability and pricing structure in the market, reducing maize prices and bridging the supply gap and scarcity in the national and local market regions.

An agronomist, Dr. Wumi Adelaja, said the CBN acted at the right time, adding that importation of maize should be discouraged because of the survival of the home grown industry and for the farmers to have good sales locally.

Adelaja said the step taken by the apex bank was similar to the one usually taken in other climes to assist the farmers and stabilise the price of the goods in the market.

“In some cases some of the agricultural products are bought at reasonable price by government so that farmers can be able to produce all the year round without any glut in market price of the product. Agriculture is the backbone of most of the advance countries and if the country can also key in into some of these laudable programmes, it is a matter of time that the country will have food security,” he said.

Dr. Opeyemi Agbato, Executive Director, Animal Care and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ogun State chapter of PAN, said the CBN intervention was a much-needed intervention.

Agbato said: “It was unfortunate that the release coincided with a time when the prices of Soy Beans Seeds (whose by-product a critical source of protein in poultry feed) experienced an astronomical increase mostly due to rapid exportation. Even though there is a dire need for foreign exchange in the country, Soya is insufficient for local use, current exportation is at the detriment of local livestock farmers, particularly poultry farmers.”

He said in the future, more strategic holding and release facilities for maize would be made available in all regions for the ease of accessibility and reduction in the cost of transportation.

“With the current state of food security in the nation (skyrocketing prices of eggs and other essential foods), we hope that the price of subsequent maize release, if at all, would be further reduced to as low as N135-145/ MT or about 30-35% lower than prevailing prices landed to the consumers to force the drop in prices of maize and cost of producing Animal Feed and food. Nevertheless, we deeply commend the initiative as it kept many afloat,” Agbato said.

A commercial maize farmer, Mr. John Olaore, said though the intervention came at the right time, the crusade should be duplicated in the six geo-political zones to give room for more accessibility.

Olaore, who is a farmer in Oke-Ogun, Oyo State, said the government should give consistent and timely intervention to agricultural activities .

“Agriculture is a critical sector that time is very important due to the nature of our weather and climate change in general, therefore all hands must be on deck to make these policies work and like a circle when it touches each other, food security is guaranteed.

The Group Managing Director, Premier Feeds limited, Mr.Austin Daylop, said: “We are encouraged with this intervention effort by the CBN and have witnessed how it has helped to ameliorate rising market prices for maize. This is a positive start in finding lasting solutions to critical national concern.”

According to him if the challenge of food prices would really be solved, “we have to all come to the table and work for sustainable solutions.”

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