July 22, 2024

The House of Representatives has initiated an investigation into the N1.12 trillion Anchor Borrowers Scheme, a Federal Government initiative for agricultural funding through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The probe will also include the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Bank of Industry (BoI), and other agencies.

This decision follows the adoption of a motion by Rep. Chike Okafor (APC-Imo) in Abuja on Tuesday. Okafor attributed the increasing food scarcity and malnutrition in Nigeria to the alleged mismanagement of agricultural funds intended for development.

He highlighted that the Federal Government had spent N8 trillion over the past eight years on various schemes and interventions to ensure food availability for millions of Nigerians.

However, he claimed that mismanagement, misapplication of funds, and program abuses have led to severe food scarcity and malnutrition.

Okafor stated that funds meant for agricultural interventions had allegedly been misused, misapplied, and diverted to non-agricultural purposes, contributing to the current food shortage.

The House has tasked the Committees on Nutrition and Food Security, Agricultural Production and Services, Agricultural Colleges and Institutions, and Finance to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP), which was supposed to disburse N1.12 trillion to 4.67 million farmers involved in maize, rice, or wheat farming through 563 anchors.

The committees will also examine NIRSAL’s disbursement of N215 billion for agriculture and agribusiness, the BoI’s disbursement of N3 billion to 22,120 smallholder farmers through the Agriculture Value Chain Financing (AVCF) Programme, and the handling of an N5 billion loan facility to the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) for livestock farmers.

Additionally, the investigation will cover the management of the National Agricultural Development’s N1.6 billion Recovery Fund for the Ginger Blight Epidemics Central Taskforce (GBECT). The House has given the committees four weeks to report back with their findings.

The CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP), established in November 2015, aimed to create economic connections between Small Holder Farmers (SHF) and Anchors. The program benefitted approximately 4.67 million farmers engaged in maize, rice, or wheat farming. Around N1.12 trillion was disbursed to 563 anchors, with N670.4 billion repaid and N450.90 billion still outstanding.

The program has since been discontinued, and the CBN is currently working to recover the remaining funds. Notable beneficiaries of the program are AFEX exchange, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Thrive Agric, Kebbi state government and others.

The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc.) is a non-bank financial institution wholly owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It was established to redefine, assess, measure, reprice, and share agribusiness-related credit risks in Nigeria.


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