The Niger State chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) on Saturday said it had recovered N35 million Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) loan from its members in the state.
Idris Abini, RIFAN’s state chairman, made the dislosure in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna.
Mr Abini said the farmers had applied for the facility between 2017 and 2018 and defaulted in repayment as agreed with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Right now we have recovered up to N35 million from our members who collected loans under the ABP and refused to honour the agreement they signed,” he said.
He said that the national headquarters of RIFAN has engaged a consultant to look into the financial status of the state RIFAN in order to find out the total loan owed by rice farmers between 2017 and 2018.
The CBN ABP is a programme that provides farm inputs – in kind and cash (for farm labour) to smallholder rice farmers to boost their production.
But the government has had trouble recovering the loan – which is up to N250,000 per farmer – from the beneficiaries across the country.
Last October, the rice farmers union in Katsina threatened to prosecute more than 100 members whom they accused of deliberately refusing to repay their loans.
The Niger RIFAN chairman said the non-repayment of loans by RIFAN members across the country made the CBN to constitute a loan recovery committee at the national level.
According to him, the committee comprises representatives of the CBN, RIFAN, Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Unity Bank and Bank of Agriculture.
Mr Abini said that at the state levels similar committees were also constituted.
He said the state committees reports to their respective chairmen who in turn deal with the CBN committee.
The RIFAN chairman said the state chapter of RIFAN had embarked on a two-week sensitisation before the loan recovery exercise.
He said that before now the farmers repaid the loans in rice paddy equivalent to the loan facility they received.
Mr Abini said the unwilling attitude of the farmers has necessitated the committee to collect cash and record it against the farmers name instead of the government losing the loans.
The RIFAN chairman charged the farmers to repay the loans to enable others benefit from such a facility.
NAN recalls that Mr Abini had said in an interview on October 6 that out of the 24,000 members who applied for the ABP loans for the 2019 farming season, CBN approved 12,000 applications that met the requirements.