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A total of 535 maize farmers in Anambra would receive farming inputs worth over N89 million under the Central Bank Anchor Borrowers Programme, for the 2020 wet farming season.

Simeon Nwafor, the state chairman of Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), made the disclosure at the inauguration of the distribution of the inputs on Tuesday in Onitsha.

Mr Nwafor said the number of beneficiaries in the state had risen from 122 in 2019 to 535 this cropping season.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the National President of MAAN, Abubakar Funtua, for supporting farmers in the state.

“Our people were initially reluctant to give their Biometric Verification Number (BVN) which was a requirement for registration, but started indicating interest after a sensitisation programme by CBN and MAAN,” he said.

While noting that more farmers had indicated interest in the programme, Nwafor appealed to the government to ensure early release of inputs to the state.

Bridget Okparaeze, the Head, Development Finance Office, CBN, Awka branch said this was the second time MAAN in the state was participating in the ABP since its launch in 2015.

She expressed delight that more farmers were taking advantage of the opportunities in the agricultural value chain, noting that ABP was an avenue to make the nation self-sufficient in food production.

“This is in line with the food security initiative of the Federal Government of promoting ‘grow what we eat and eat what we grow’.

“The Federal Government in collaboration with the CBN will continue to support farmers with relevant farm inputs to ensure food security in the country,” she said.

Mrs Okparaeze, however, explained that the programme was not a grant but a loan facility in the form of farm inputs and a cash component.

“Farmers that divert their farm inputs or side sell their produces would be blacklisted outrightly and banned from further participating in any CBN intervention programmes.

“All our interventions previously at nine per cent interest rate are now given at five per cent interest rate for this year because of COVID-19.

“Therefore, all farmers participating in this programme are expected to repay the loan granted to them with their produce,” the CBN official said.

Mrs Okparaeze urged the leadership of MAAN and other stakeholders to monitor implementation of the programme from planting to evacuation of produce to designated collection centres.

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In an interview, a retired teacher and maize farmer, Pat Okeke, commended the Federal Government for the gesture, which she said would boost maize farming in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the inputs included improved maize seedlings, NPK and organic fertilisers, urea, micronutrients, knapsack sprayer and insecticides.

The farmers are also to receive other logistic support for land preparation, ploughing, farm mapping and extension services, among others. (NAN)

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