CBN Orders NIRSAL After N5bn From Six ABP Defaulters

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has directed NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank Limited (NMFB) to recover all non-performing intervention loans including the N5 billion granted some six defaulters on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

Breakdown of the N5 billion Non-performing loans showed Sadolen Interworld Ltd got N2.050 billion while Gum Arabic Farms & Commodities Ltd N1.220 billion

Others are Prime Synergy Global Solutions Ltd N1.45 billion, Asuj Food Production & Processing Ltd N581.4 million,
Souvenire Seeds Nigeria Ltd which got N158.2 million and
Con Investment N211.6 million.

The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is a CBN’s single-digit loan intervention scheme, established by the Federal Government in 2015 for the purpose of boosting the agricultural sector of the economy.

NMFB said Tuesday that the CBN has directed it to recover the loans from the six defaulters.

Nirsal MFB was forced to make the list public following the defaulters’ refusal to comply with the demand notices that were issued earlier.

The CBN scheme has come under intense criticisms of late owing to several issues that have clogged the programme which many felt has not achieved its purpose despite over N1trn that was sunk into it.

Between May and June this year, the apex bank said it disbursed N3.62 billion to 12 projects for the cultivation of rice, wheat, and maize, bringing the cumulative disbursement to N1.01 trillion, to over 4.21 million smallholder farmers cultivating 21 commodities across the country.

The bank also said it disbursed N3.72 billion to finance three large-scale agricultural projects under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) which brought the cumulative disbursements to N744.32 billion for 678 projects in agro-production and agro-processing.

At a recent gathering of stakeholders in the private sector, the Chairperson of the Agriculture and Agro-Allied Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Edubor Akpabio, asserted the members of the association were not getting the CBN intervention funds.

Believed to be going into the wrong hands who are not really farmers, she urged the apex bank to rather push its interventions through the Bank of Industry (BOI) to enable genuine farmers to have access to the funds.

“We feel strongly that the banks do not understand our business, and that there is agric business that is beyond agriculture,” the LCCI Chairperson also said.

However, if the problems facing the scheme are not effectively resolved, it will affect the agriculture and food industries and negatively affect the productivity of Nigeria’s agriculture sector, the Chief Executive Officer of the Pan-African Farmers Organisation (PAFO), Babafemi Oyewole, told our correspondent.

“It will also constrain the ability of farmers to meet local demand for food items, reduce exports and foreign exchange income of the government and limit the inability of the country to efficiently take advantage of any opportunity in global agriculture trade.”

The core of the programme is to provide loans (in kind and cash) to smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production, create jobs, reduce food import bill towards conservation of foreign reserves.

Oyewole said, “Anchor Borrowers Programme as it is, has prevented other eligible beneficiaries from accessing the facility and therefore continue to make access to finance agriculture activities a perennial problem in the country.”

Also, in addition to the deliberate attitude of some beneficiaries to repay the funds made available to them, Oyewole stressed that the activities of herdsmen and farmers clash post another major challenge, which has halted farming activities in some parts of Nigeria.

“Farmers within the affected communities are finding it hard to go to their farms as well as to get enough food crops to the market thereby increasing the price of commodities in the market.

“This is affecting the ability of the farmers that benefited from the CBN’s intervention to produce and get the needed income to service their debts,” the PAFO boss who urged a conducive and enabling environment said.