House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture has summoned the Management of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Kaduna, to clear issues on the bank’s inability to recover the N81 billion loan disbursed to farmers under the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
The Committee gave the order on Friday, when it paid an oversight visit to the headquarters of the bank in Kaduna on Friday.
Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Muntari Dandutse who led other members directed the bank management to submit all relevant documents related to the anchor borrowers program to it for scrutiny.
According to him the bank should also submit it’s audited account and the amount it recovered from the farmers.
The committee, according to him would need to have access to the bank’s list of beneficiaries and defaulters, and advice on measures to be taken to recover the loans.
Members of the committee had during the visit expressed concern that beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrower Programme had complained to the committee on bank’s alleged poor handling of the ABP funds.
The committee said it received over 30 petitions from farmers against the bank of its inability to properly manage the CBN funds released for the program.
Dandutse, however, said the committee in particular and the National Assembly was determined to engage stakeholders including CBN on measures to recover outstanding loans from the N81 billion said to have been disbursed.
“N81 billion can change the lives of Nigerian farmers in different value chains, so we cannot allow it go unrecovered, as this government is determined to ensure probity and transparency in all conducts.
“The bank should appear before it along with all its documents of debtors, as well as those who have applied for loans and did not get,” he said.
Dr. Zainab Gimba, representing Bama/Ngala/Kalabalge constituency in Borno, had raised concern that farmers from the North-East were not happy with the manner the bank handled the anchor borrowers funds.
Gimba listed commercial farmers including “Dili Daru Farms, Gorea Farms, Shiltam Farms and Dr. Mohammed Dogo among those who expressed concern with the way the bank handled the funds.
She said that, the farmers had complained to her office and the Committee that they were finding it difficult to access loans under ABP from the Agriculture bank.
Gimba said BOA had slowed the Federal Government’s efforts towards resettling the people North-East affected by insurgency, through Agriculture.
She urged the Bank to go back to its core mandate and urgently respond to the financial need of farmers, especially those affected by the crisis in the north east region.
However, Mr. Kabir Adamu, Managing Director of the bank, while addressing the committee disclosed that farmers in the North-East region were major beneficiaries of the loans.
Adamu said it was a deliberate effort of the bank that ensured that farmers from the North East region benefited more from the ABP than any other part of the country.
“It is a not true to say that the BOA has not been releasing funds to the farmers in the North-East. Many of the farmers took the loan in billions of naira under the ABP and refused to pay back.
“We are currently collaborating with the National Refugees Commission to help resettle those that have been displaced through Agriculture.
“Last year we made donation of rice, blankets and other materials to support those affected by the crisis in the region.
“We have also signed an MoU with the North East Development Commission and agreed on key areas of mechanisation and other forms of production to see how we can support them.
“On the issue of Anchor Borrower, so many people have taken loans and they have refused to pay,” Adamu said.
He said that the bank had suffered in silence for long from poor recovery from beneficiaries, while CBN on the other hand, had often stampeded the Bank to disburse more money to farmers.
The Committee, however, asked the bank management to appear before it on a date to be communicated to it.