The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that a total of 1,232,326 loans valued at N130.90 billion had been guaranteed to farmers under its Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) from its inception in 1977 to May 2022.
The bank added that 973,646 beneficiaries had also repaid a total of N98.91 billion out of the total disbursements.
The central bank also said it guaranteed the sum of N22.58 million to 82 loan beneficiaries under the scheme in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) between January and May 2022, bringing the total guaranteed loans in the FCT to N1.748 billion from 14,258 loans.
CBN Director, Development Finance Department, Mr. Yila Yusuf, gave the figures at the National Ceremony for the 2021 Best Farmer of the Year Award which took place during the 40th ACGSF Board Meeting in Abuja.
He said in terms of loan recovery, 11,726 loans valued N801.05 million were repaid under the scheme in the FCT from the inception of the programme.
Yila, who was represented by the Chairman, Board of ACGSF, Mr. Stephen Okon, further noted that the scheme had proved to be relatively successful in de-risking the agricultural sector, as evidenced in the number of loans guaranteed from inception to date.
Nonetheless, he said the award was introduced in the 1980s to recognise selected farmers that borrowed under the scheme and repaid within a specified period while adopting best agronomic practices to achieve good yields.
The CBN director said the gesture was expected to serve as an incentive for participating in the scheme and inculcating good repayment behaviour with a view to encouraging more participants.
He said the event could not have come at a better time than now when economies the world over are experiencing challenges resulting from the Russian – Ukrainian War.
He stressed that the impact of the hostilities – including global oil and food crises affecting the agricultural sector, had contributed to disruptions in domestic food supply chains and other shocks affecting food production.
This, he said, had led to the loss of incomes, food security risks, inflationary trends, and creating serious tensions in many countries, pointing out that achieving food security not only carries significant benefits for human health but also serves as the basis to achieve sustained economic growth.
He said awakened by a potential rise in food insecurity, many countries and organisations are mounting special efforts to keep agriculture safely running as an essential business.
Also speaking at the occasion, Branch Controller, CBN, Abuja, Mr. Ogbu Michael, explained that the ACGSF was not only an important programme of the apex bank but the first development finance intervention scheme to be established by the bank, adding that the scheme heralded the birth of the Development Finance Department (DFD) of the bank.
He said it was evident that the successes achieved under the ACGSF had led to significant improvement in Deposit Money Banks’ (DMB) lending to the agricultural sector and had led to remarkable growth in the agri-business value chain in the country.
According to him, the annual award ceremony provides an opportunity to recognise the tremendous strides made by participating farmers under the scheme, add visibility to the programme among prospective participants and ultimately signal the CBN’s resolve at ensuring the achievement of food self-sufficiency in the country.
At the award ceremony, IFGREEN Industries and Investment Limited won the Best Farmer of the Year Award at the national level with AlMustapha Maigwandu Farms Limited and Wuntin Dada Agro Farms Limited emerging first and second runners up respectively.
Sterling Bank Plc emerged the 2021 Best Participating Financial Institution of the Year award in the national category among other awardees.