The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved a loan facility for at least 200 maize farmers in Abia under its Anchor Borrower Programme on maize for the 2019 farming season, an official has said.
Celsius Agla, the Manager, Development Finance Office of CBN, Umuahia branch, said this on Thursday in his presentation at the CBN Fair organised in Umuahia, the Abia capital.
Agla said that farmers, whose applications were not approved, had issues with their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), adding that they had to wait for next year.
Agla spoke extensively on the bank’s Anchor Borrower Programme on Rice, saying that the programme was initiated to boost local production of the commodity to stop its importation.
He said that the bank had identified oil palm and cassava production as two agricultural mainstay of Abia.
He said that the bank had begun to capture the number of oil palm farmers in the state for intervention.
He also discussed other interventions by the bank, including the Agricultural Business Small and Medium Enterprises Schme, Entrepreneurship Development Institute, among others.
Agla said that the bank was taking steps to address the identifiable challenges militating against the smooth implementation of some of the schemes.
Also, Mrs Ngozi Eze, Senior Manager, Currency Operations Department in the bank, spoke on the Clean Notes Policy of the bank.
Eze appealed to Nigerians to uphold the sanctity of the currency as the nation’s symbol and pride and desist from abusing the naira notes.
She listed ways the naira notes could be abused to include spraying at ceremonies, writing on the note, mutilation, trading on naira notes and counterfeiting the currency, among others.
Eze advocated the use of envelopes and wallets to keep the naira notes clean.
She warned that those caught abusing the naira notes would be prosecuted and liable to six months imprisonment or option of N50,000 fine, if convicted.
She said that the bank was using the media to disseminate information on the policy to the grassroots level.
Mr Nnanna Chukwu, the Senior Manager, Payment System Management, spoke on the alternative payment system, such as the mobile applications, Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and internet.
Chukwu said that the alternative payment system was introduced in line with the bank’s policy on cashless economy.
Mr Sam Okogbue, the Assistant Director, Corporate Communications Department, said that the CBN Governor, Dr. Godwin Emefiele, introduced a policy to make CBN more people-focussed.
Okogbuo, who represented the Director of the department, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, said that the bank identified 41 agricultural produce that Nigeria had a comparative advantage over other nations.
He said that the bank banned the issuance of foreign exchange for the importation of those produce, which could be produced to meet local needs.
He said that the nation had benefited immensely from the ban with the attendant boost in the nation’s foreign reserve.
He said that the ban and the success recorded by the Anchor Borrower Programme on rice had also resulted in a cultural change.
He said that majority of Nigerians no longer craze for foreign rice.
Mr Onyekachi Erondu, a participant in the fair and Abia Chairman of the Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, said that 546 members applied for the Anchor Borrower Programme on Maize.
Erondu said that they applied for N480 million but that only 200 of them were successful.
He said that the association was making efforts to rectify the BVN problem to enable the remaining members to benefit.
He regretted that the loan was coming behind their farming timetable, saying that they expected the loan early in the year to enable them to farm twice.
“If the loan came in May, we would have been sure to begin another maize farming by next month but it is no longer possible,” he said.
He therefore appealed to CBN to endeavour to work in line with their farming timetable in order for them to maximise the benefit of the scheme.
In an address of welcome, the CBN Branch Controller, Mr Michael Ogbu, said that the fair was organised to sensitise Abia residents on the various CBN interventions, including BVN, financial inclusion and agric financing, among others.
The fair with the theme, “Promoting financial stability and economic development,” was attended by participants from across the 17 local government areas of the state.
(Edited by Sam Oditah)