By Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
The Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday said it has reduced its interest rate from 9% to 5% for beneficiaries of its 2020 Anchor Borrower Programme as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Apex bank also said 5,016 maize farmers in Plateau State have benefitted from the aforementioned programme for the 2020 wet season farming.
This was disclosed by Head, Development and Finance Office of the Jos Branch of CBN, Mrs Helen Temtsen, at the flagging of the distribution of inputs to the beneficiaries in Mangu LGA of the State.
According to her, the programme which began three years ago in the state, had 339 beneficiaries in 2018 and 3, 396 in 2019.
Temtsen explained that the programe aimed at improving local production and discouraging importation at minimal interest rate.
“When this programme began in Plateau in 2018, 339 farmers maize farmers benefitted.
“In 2019, 3, 386 benefited; for this year’s wet season, 5, 016 farmers will benefit.
“In general, we have supported 18, 140 farmers in the state to improve the production of rice, maize, cotton and sorghum
“For this year, the interest has gone down from nine percent to five percent becuase of Covid-19,” she said.
Also, speaking at the event,
the Branch Controller of CBN in Jos, Mr Yusuf Duniya, warned the beneficiaries against diversion, saying anyone caught selling the inputs in the market would be delisted.
Duniya also advised the farmers to ensure timely repayment of the loan, insisting that the intervention isn’t a grant but a loan with six months duration.
“Government through the CBN has introduced this programme basically to curtail importation and improve local production.
“It was also introduced so as to enable huge production of raw materials that will serve our industries and make them functional.
“That way, our import rate will decrease and resources saved will be channel into developing other sectors of the economy.
“This is a loan and not a grant. So, I urge you to pay back as at when due. Don’t sell the inputs, but use them judiciously because we are expecting the proceeds from you after harvest,” he advised.
Earlier in his welcome, Mr Dakat Mbai, Chairman of Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) in the state, thanked CBN and government for the gesture.
Mbai assured that the leadership of the association would ensure that the beneficiaries put the inputs to good use.
He promised that the association would ensure that the beneficiaries repay the loan as at when due.
The chairman, however, called for timely distribution of the inputs, lamenting that the inputs usually gets to the farmers when the raining season is almost over.
“Input distribution most comes late, yet farmers are expected to pay back the loan despite the lateness.
“So, we want to appeal that inputs should get to farmers early enough to enable rich harvest,” he appealed.
The inputs distributed include: seeds, fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides and sprayers.