The Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) has called for zero interest rate on the 2020 Anchor Borrowers loan given to farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on farmers.
The President of the Association, Dr. Bello Abubakar made the call in an interview with Voice of Nigeria correspondent in Abuja Nigeria’s Capital.
Abubakar said the call is largely due to the lose encountered by irrigation maize farmers and unavailability of inputs for the commencement of the wet season farming.
He said the delay in the commencement of the wet season farming is due to the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown and restriction of movement in some parts of the country which have made it almost impossible for farmers to access their farms and inputs.
“About the interest rates, because of this problem our farmers have suffered especially irrigation farmers and early planting farmers who has lost everything.
“We are pleading with the CBN to give us zero interest rate for this year’s Anchor Borrower program so that farmers will be encouraged to go to the farm and produce so that we can meet our target.”
On the government releasing 70,000 metric tons of grains from silos in the country, Dr. Abubakar said the move is a commendable one as the entire 70,000 metric tons which does not include the ones that went to processors was produced by local farmers.
“The Federal Government directed Federal Ministry of Agriculture to release food commodity from different silos to all the states of the federation, which is 70,000 metric tons, if you look at this quantity, it was all produced by our farmers here in Nigeria despites the ones already purchased by food commodity processors”
While urging the government to off-take directly from the farmers, Dr. Abubakar said government should liaise with the CBN to access the commodity farmers on the Anchor Borrowers loan to off-take directly from them instead of using contractors that shortchange the farmers.
“CBN is giving our farmers loan to produce after which some off-takers will come and buy this produce from our farmers or our Association at a very low price so if the Federal government can liaise with the government to off-take directly from the farmers and pay them instead of paying N15,000 per 100kg to contractors who in turn buy at eight Thousand-Five Hundred Naira from the farmers.”