Anchor Borrowers Programme : Bauchi Farmers decry slow pace of accounts opening process in Banks

Potential beneficiaries of Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) in Bauchi State have decried the slow pace of processing of their accounts by some banks involved in the programme.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bauchi on Monday that unnecessary delay by some of the banks in opening accounts for them, which is a pre-condition for participation in the programme, was frustrating and diminishing their enthusiasm to participate in the ABP.

The interested participants, mostly farmers and civil servants, noted that the Project Management Team (PMT) set up by the state government, had done a lot to generate interest in the programme but the hiccup being experienced in some of the participating banks, was discouraging.

According to them, the inbuilt incentives in the programme are so tempting that they initially doubted the possibility of actual implementation.

“Apart from providing the capital for farming, all the inputs needed such as fertilizer, seeds, pesticides and even land, are also to be provided.

“As if those incentives are not enough, farmers will be assisted with buyers and insurance companies in case of misfortune.

“Most of us therefore picked interest and commenced the process of registration but as I am talking to you now, this is our third week struggling to open accounts with a particular participating bank.

“The bank staff kept making promises that things will take shape in some days, without fulfilling the promise,” said Hassan Madaki, Chairman of Kajitu Nsiha Farmers’ Co-operative Society in Bauchi.

Abdullahi Idris, another farmer and Public Relations Officer of the Co’operative society, said initially, he was skeptical of the programme because the incentives contained were too ‘mouthwatering’ for implementation.

“Most agricultural programmes were lofty and promising on paper but implementation was always a mirage.

“When I heard the goodies promised under the Anchor Borrowers Programme, my thinking was that it will go the same way like others programmes before it, which is paper goodies.

“But the Kebbi experience convinced me that this time around, the authorities are prepared to walk-the-talk, especially with President Buhari at the helm of affairs.

“Unfortunately, most of us have completed all process of registration but some of the participating banks are dilly-dallying over the opening of accounts by individual farmers, which is a precondition for participation,” he said.

Ibrahim Dallaje, a civil servant with a federal establishment who picked interest in the programme as a result of the aggressive enlightenment activities embarked upon by the state Project Management Team of ABP, told NAN that he had initially dismissed the initiative as one of those ‘exercises’ on paper.

“When the ‘noise’ about the programme over the radio became too much, I decided to give it attention, only to discover that the Anchor Borrowers Programme is not only ‘farmers-friendly, but also ‘civil servants- friendly”.

“The incentives are so tempting that I cannot resist giving it a trial; I have started the process but I am being held back by one of the participating banks over the opening of an account with them.

“I have been shuttling between my office and the bank for the past three weeks but all I had received were promises and assurances that were hardly fulfilled,” he lamented.

Haruna Saidu, a rice farmer in Tirwun village in the outskirt of Bauchi metropolis, lauded the decision by the state government to settle the 9 per cent interest on the loan to be granted participants in the programme.

“The Federal and Bauchi State governments have done enough to encourage participation but there are some participating banks in the state frustrating us with unnecessary delays in opening our account,” he said.

Other farmers who talked to NAN, namely Ibrahim Hassan, Umaru Adamu, Umaru Baba and Ibrahim Hassan, urged the PMT in the state, to impress it on some of the banks to fast-track the process of opening of individual accounts.

They noted that some farmers had been shuttling for weeks from their towns or villages, spending a lot of money in the process, just to ensure that their accounts had been processed.

In their reactions to the complaints, staff of some of the participating banks told NAN on condition of anonymity that they were struggling to contend with the large number of people seeking to open accounts.

“There are processes in opening accounts which must be followed because they are Central Bank (CBN) guidelines. Circumventing any of the processes could attract the wrath of the CBN,” said one of the bank staff.

NAN reports that the Anchor Borrowers Agricultural Programme of the Federal Government was launched in Kebbi last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Bauchi state is one of the few states that have so far embraced the programme, with Gov.Mohammed Abubakar flagging – off the Land Preparation aspect on Thursday in Gadan-Maiwa town of the state.

Speaking at the occasion, the Lead Consultant in charge of the programme in the state, Dr Abdulmalik Nura, said that out of the 20,000 farmers registered so far, 10,000 had been screened by field officers and representatives of participating banks.

He stated that the next stage was the training of the farmers on good agricultural practice, farm enterprise management and group dynamics, before the commencement of distribution of input.

“We have equally concluded input assessment of irrigated rice enterprise production module for the state, which currently stood at N370, 000 per hectare.

“By implication, each bonafide farmer is now expected to deposit the sum of N18, 500, which is his mandatory 5 per cent equity contribution as prescribed by the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) guideline,” he said.


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