Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, MAAN, has called for zero interest rate on the 2020 Anchor Borrowers loan to farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to cushion the effect of Coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak on farmers.
President of the Association, Dr. Bello Abubakar, made the call on Friday in Abuja, while speaking on the effect of the lockdown on agricultural activities.
Mr Abubakar said the call followed the loss encountered by irrigation maize farmers and unavailability of inputs for the beginning of wet season farming.
He said delay in the start of wet season farming was due to the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown and restriction on movement in some parts of the country, which had made access to farms and inputs impossible for farmers.
“About the interest rate; because of this problem, our farmers have suffered, especially irrigation farmers and early planting farmers who have lost everything.
“We are pleading with the CBN to give us zero interest rate for this year’s Anchor Borrower programme, so that farmers will be encouraged to go to the farm, produce and meet our target,” he said.
He, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for releasing 70,000 metric tonnes of grains from silos in the country.
Mr Abubakar said the move was a commendable one as the whole 70,000 metric tonnes, excluding the ones that went to processors, were produced by local farmers.
“The Federal Government directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to release food commodity from different silos to all the states of the federation, which is 70,000 metric tonnes.
“This large quantity was produced by our farmers here in Nigeria, apart from the ones already purchased by food commodity processors,” he said.
The MAAN president said government should liaise with the CBN to deal directly with commodity farmers on the Anchor Borrowers loan, instead of using contractors that often shortchanged them.
“The 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
“The Federal Government can liaise with the government to off-take directly from the farmers and pay them, instead of paying N15, 000 per 100 kg to contractors, who in turn buy at N8, 500 from the farmers,” he added.