By Osaze Omoragbon
Following the success of its various interventions in agriculture development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued non-interest guidelines to further expand agriculture development. Tagged Non-Interest Guidelines for The Accelerated Development of Agriculture Scheme, the programme which is targeted at the engagement of about 370,000 youths in various stages of the agric value chain will run for a period of three years. The main objectives of the scheme, according to the CBN are to ensure food security, create jobs, and sustain economic diversification.
With expected collaboration from the states, the programme will engage youths between the ages of 18 to 35 years and focus on two crops where each state has a comparative advantage. The CBN will provide a lending window through which funds can be accessed while the state governments will mobilise farmers in the targeted age ranges from the three senatorial districts. The state governments will also provide a minimum of 100 hectares of contiguous land in all locations of the zones and group farmers into clusters. Each beneficiary is expected to be allocated about 2.5 hectares of land.
On financing, the CBN will appoint Primary Finance Institutions (PFIs) that will act as its agents that will disburse funding to beneficiaries as well as purchase inputs for on-selling to beneficiaries using CBN approved non-interest financing contracts at an all-inclusive rate of 9 percent per annum. The financing tenure for grains and broiler is for six months; 18 months for cassava; 24 months for egg production; 5 years of plantation crops. “Average financing size of N250,000 per hectare of arable crops; N500,000 per unit of livestock; and N1.5 million naira for plantain crops like cocoa and Cashew” the guidelines states.