Anchor Borrowers Programme: Input suppliers seek Delta state intervention over N40m debt

Input suppliers and off-takers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), in Delta State, have called on the state government to help facilitate payment for their supplies to farmers under the scheme.
Emmanuel Ogidi, who spoke on behalf of the suppliers, made the appeal, on Tuesday, in Abuja.
Ogidi said that the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) had not paid for the materials worth over N40 million, which the farm input suppliers and off-takers supplied to farmers under the scheme in the state.
The ABP, a programme of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is aimed at creating economic linkages between smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale produce processors.
The programme was established to increase agricultural output and significantly improve capacity utilisation of processors.
The apex bank has set aside N220 billion for loans, aimed at developing the agricultural sector to attain self-sufficiency in food production.
Ogidi said that the input suppliers and off-takers were appealing to the Delta government, through its Ministry of Agriculture, to come to our aid.
“I and some of my colleagues supplied inputs, including animal feeds and other materials, to farmers but we have not been paid for the past four to five months.
“We are supposed to be paid by CBN through the BOA. We have signed all the documents but they are now bringing in some administrative bottlenecks,’’ he said.
Ogidi said that some of the suppliers were now facing serious financial challenges because of their cash crunch and lack of funds to run their businesses because of the debt.
“In fact, we are hungry because we need the money for our business and to feed our families.
“We are, therefore, appealing to the Government of Delta, as a stakeholder of the scheme, to please come to our rescue.
“We are also appealing to the BOA to please address whatever the problem is and pay us our money.
“Some of us have started perceiving the scheme to be a monumental fraud,’’ he added.
In his reaction, the Delta Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Austin Chikezie, acknowledged that the state government was aware of the debt owed the input suppliers.
Chikezie told NAN that the state government was striving to ensure the success of the scheme in the state, adding that it was looking into how the debt would be defrayed on time.
He said that his ministry had intervened in the issue, adding that it had written several letters to appropriate authorities to ensure the payment of the debt.
“As you know, the state government is not the one making the payment; it is the responsibility of the CBN to pay those suppliers who met all the conditions, as defined by the programme.
“There are certain documentations that are required, particularly the banking documentation which every individual participant must certify before payment is made.
“The first set of input suppliers under the programme in the state were paid over N1 billion.
“As a state, we are working to ensure the success of the programme by insisting that the right farmers get the inputs and that the suppliers deliver the inputs according to specifications.”
Chikezie said that the state government was also making efforts to get more input suppliers and off-takers to come on board as long as they were ready to comply with laid-down standards, in line with the programme expectations.
A source at CBN, who preferred anonymity, said that the bank was not active in the Anchor Borrowers Programme in Delta. “We are presently active in 20 states. It is the Delta State Government that is responsible for the finance of the programme in the state,’’ he added. Meanwhile, efforts to get the reactions of the Managing Director of BOA to the issues and claims have proved abortive, as he did not pick calls nor reply SMS sent to him.

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