Soothing news came the way of Imo State government as 525 of its smallholder farmers are benefiting from agricultural input supply under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The project is being executed by the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc.) in partnership with the aggregator, Aloha Integrated Services, for the 2019 Wet Season.
The beneficiary farmers are from Mbaitoli, Ideato North and South, Nwangele, Oguta, Ohaji Egbema, Oru West, Isu and Okigwe local government areas.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony of the CBN ABP inputs distribution for the 2019 wet season which took place in Owerri Municipal Council of Imo State at the weekend, the Head of NIRSAL’s Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office (PMRO) in Imo State, Mrs. Nkechi Osuji, said that the ABP’s overall objective is to create economic linkages between smallholder farmers and reputable companies involved in the processing of specific agro-commodities with a view to increasing agricultural output and achieving food security.
According to her, NIRSAL’s focus is to address the various bottlenecks in the cassava value chain in the South-East of the country.
Osuji noted that the ABP will address the problem of low-quality inputs, pests and diseases, poor agronomic practices and other challenges facing smallholder farmers.
She explained that the reason why NIRSAL is providing the farmers with improved cassava stems, fertilizers and, most importantly, crop protection chemicals is to help them boost their production and achieve high yield at the end of the farming season.
The cassava farmers under the Aloha ABP ticket, who had in the past, suffered weed, disease and pest infestations on their farms, can now rest assured that a solution to their challenges has come. And the solution will be far-reaching since the ABP thrives on assembling several smallholders and harnessing their collective capabilities for large-scale farming. As earlier mentioned, this Aloha ticket has farmers from across 9 Local Government Areas of Imo State.
Also speaking at the event, Mr. Kelechi Nwosu, the President of Aloha Integrated Services, the aggregator for the Imo Cassava ABP 2019 wet season, said that NIRSAL’s support had enhanced the capacity of the farmers through training on good agronomic practices and the integration of climate-smart agricultural practices by its Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Officers (PMRO).
“Farmers under our ABP ticket have been provided with certified, high yielding cassava stems, fertilizers, and crop protection chemicals which will ensure a boost in our output,” he added.
So far, a total of 525 cassava farmers from the various cooperatives, cultivating on 525 hectares of land across the state, have benefited from the input distribution. Inputs received include herbicides (pre and post-emergence), NPK, crop protection products (Altrazin and Gramozin) and mechanization. Some other farmers in the state are in the programme for this season, with maize farmers having already received inputs.
His Royal Highness, Eze Ohiri, the Obi of Obi-Orodo community in Mbaitoli LGA, Imo State, also in attendance at the flag-off, expressed gratitude to NIRSAL, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government for the input distribution which, according to him, brings great relief to Imo farmers. “It is good to see the Federal government and its agencies coming together to support our communities. So far, we’ve seen activities around capacity building among farmers, and today we witness the actual distribution of quality stems, fertilizer, and chemicals. And this is coming well ahead of the wet season and so we are very happy.”
According to Ohiri, beside the effects of weed, diseases, and pest in the area, the communities were also faced with a number of other challenges including poor agricultural practices, unreliable supply of quality seeds and planting materials, effects of climate change among others. “We see that many of these will be addressed within this programme. As a community, we will continue to cooperate with NIRSAL to ensure that we realize the target objectives of the Federal government,” he added.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme which was established to create linkages between anchor companies involved in processing and smallholder farmers of specific agricultural commodities is in its fourth year. The objectives of the ABP include providing agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers to boost the production of key agricultural commodities, stabilise inputs/raw materials supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.
Other south-eastern states are also lined up for input distribution under the ABP. Over 5,600 cassava farmers in Enugu, and 90 in Ebonyi are set to receive inputs for 6,155 and 90 hectares of land respectively. In Anambra, 1,160 rice farmers, each cultivating one hectare, are on the program, while in Abia State, 702 cocoa farmers cultivating 702 hectares are to receive inputs under the ABP.