The Central Bank of Nigeria has disclosed that beneficiaries of its N33.34bn to 146,557 farmers across 21 states under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme have commenced repayment.

According to the apex bank, out of the total amount of N33.34bn so far released, about N15.13bn disbursed to 73,941 farmers in Kebbi State had fallen due for repayment, with N7.11bn or 47 per cent of the amount repaid and returned to the CBN.

According to the CBN the balance of N18.20bn of the 12-month tenured loans released to farmers in the other 20 states for wet and dry season farming had not fallen due for repayment.

It said farmers in other benefiting states had also commenced repayment to the tune of N1.238bn.

The statement read in part, “Farmers who accessed under the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme have indeed commenced repaying their loans.

“Details of the loan disbursement and repayment indicate that as of March 31, 2017, a total sum of N33.34bn had been released through 12 participating finance institutions in respect of 146,557 farmers across 21 states, cultivating over 180,018 hectares of land.”

The CBN noted that efforts were currently being made by the participating state governments to ensure that all outstanding loans were repaid by the farmers as soon as they were due before the commencement of the next dry season farming season.

This, it added, was to enable the CBN extend similar gestures to farmers in other states, which had indicated interest in participating in the ABP.

According to the apex bank, rice, wheat, maize, soya beans, cotton and fish have been cultivated by the farmers with appreciable yields achieved.

It said Kebbi State alone accounted for about two million metric tonnes of rice out of the estimated four million metric tonnes so far realised under the programme nationwide.

The ABP is designed to create economic linkages between farmers and processors, not only to ensure increased agricultural output of rice and wheat, but also to close the gap between production and consumption.

Under the programme, the CBN has set aside N40bn out of the N220bn Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund to be given to farmers at a single digit interest rate of nine per cent per annum.

Under the scheme, smallholder farmers are entitled to loans ranging between N150,000 and N250,000 to assist them in procuring necessary inputs like seedlings, fertilizers and pesticides, among others, to help boost agricultural output and productivity.