SEIFAC enlightens members on modus operandi, awaits CBN disbursement

… reads riot acts on cluster membership

The National Programme Coordinator of Smallholder Economic Interest Farmers Agricultural Cooperative (SEIFAC), Mr. Patrick Abur has enlightened members on the modus operandi of the cooperative.

The Coordinator while speaking to journalists in Abuja on Thursday cautioned members to be law abiding to reap the benefits of the Organization as he exposed them to the advantages of cluster farmers.

Abur appealed to members to exercise patience as the management has played it’s part by fulfilling the guidelines of  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while waiting for disbursement any moment soon.

He said “we have strong believe that the disbursement will be made in due course noting that SEIFAC on its part as a facilitator has fulfilled all the criteria enshrined in the CBN Anchor Borrower’s Programme Guidelines. This however calls for unwavering patience on the part of our members.”

The SEIFAC boss emphasized that their major objectives is to organize the Nigerian Smallholder Farmers who are scattered, less informed and ravaged by hunger and poverty like a stranded sheep without a herd and flock.”

According to him a group of Smallholder Farmers analyzed the worrisome situation of the Nigerian Smallholder Farmers and came up with the strategy of cluster farming called Agricultural Production Cluster (Agro-PC) having understudied the concept from developed and developing countries for a good number of years and believed on the adoption of same in the Nigerian context shall proffer a lasting solution to the plights of the Smallholder Farmers which the prototype domiciled the ownership of SEIFAC and her members.

He said “SEIFAC has carefully analyzed and reviewed the trend of agriculture globally and has come to the conclusion that agriculture in the twenty-first century is reinventing itself as a new global business reshaped by globalization, standardization, high-value production, massive growth in demand (both for the food and the biofuel industries), retail and packaging innovations, and a ramp up in efficiency.

Faced with constant productivity and market pressures, the ‘new agriculture’ needs tools to enhance its competitiveness and innovation capacity.

He explained that one of these tools is the promotion of clusters; An agro-based cluster (AC) simply a concentration of producers, agribusinesses and institutions that are engaged in the same agricultural or agro-industrial sub-sector, interconnect and build value networks when addressing common challenges and pursuing common opportunities.

Cluster Farming initiatives are starting to be seen as a key approach to help advance the agricultural sector of many countries. The promotion or inducement of such clusters has various advantages relative to other approaches. In particular, cluster approaches recognize that all the actors in the agricultural value chain are often more innovative and successful when they interact with supporting institutions and other actors in the supply chain.

By promoting vertical and horizontal links between local agricultural enterprises, as well as supporting relationships between them and facilitating organizations (e.g. local governments, research institutes and universities), cluster policies promote the diffusion of innovation, as well as the use and generation of important local externalities. Cluster Farming can also enhance access to credit facilities, machinery, quality inputs, advisory and extension services, storage and processing and markets.

Cluster policies are argued to be crucial for small-scale farmers and agribusiness, as they enable them to engage in higher productivity, and more market oriented and higher value-added production. Accordingly, central and local governments have discovered that cluster farming promotion is a valuable tool to support agricultural enterprises in their territory and help them link to global agricultural value chains in a more efficient and sustainable manner.

Vision

To attain ‘self-food sufficiency’, peaceful and prosperous, effective and cohesive Nigeria by the Smallholder Farmers community.

To position the smallholder farmers on a pedestal in which the Smallholder Farmer would benefit from every intervention performance.

To augment the incremental incomes of Smallholder Farmers by helping them to increase their crop productivity through the proper organization of farmers into viable cooperatives who on extension shall go into cluster farming and educate them on the importance of agriculture being the economic mainstream of any developing nation. Lead them into forming enterprise base clusters to gain group dynamics and internal economies of scale.

SEIFAC’s aim is to make these clusters/cooperative societies to become economically and democratically strong for professionalized services to the farming community to ensure an empowered rural Nigeria and Africa at large by lifting the Smallholder Farmers out of avoidable poverty.

To promote sustainable and equitable agriculture and rural prosperity through effective organization of Smallholder Farmers to attain self-efficiency and democracy in accessing external credit support, related services, institutional development and other innovative initiatives.

Mission

To enable the Nigerian Smallholder Farmers to prosper through timely supply of reliable, high quality agricultural inputs and services in an environmentally sustainable manner and to undertake other activities to improve their welfare”.

To represent, lobby, mobilize, organize, manage and advocate for Smallholder Farmers’ interest and build their capacities to engage in crop enterprises that would be to their best interest. To organize Smallholder Farmers to farm in clusters to leverage on the collective internal economies of scale of cluster dynamics.

Overall Objectives

SEIFAC is a multi-crops producer, processor and marketing Smallholder Economic Interest Farmers Agricultural Cooperative that connects Smallholder Farmers that cultivate these crops namely Rice, Maize, Sesame, Cassava, Yam, Groundnuts, Bambaranuts, Sorghum, Soybean and Wheat in the states of the Federation and FCT Abuja, to farm in clusters and to leverage on the collective internal economies of scale of cluster dynamics in order to lift themselves out of avoidable poverty.

SEIFAC as a cooperative offers its members a competitive and economical enterprise financing platform coupled with financial advisory services that are tailored to each individual cluster enterprise which makes it easy for a common Smallholder Farmer to easily understand the loan, which are transparently administered timely according to the SEIFAC Cropping Calendar for each of the enterprises for both wet and dry cropping seasons. This offering has been expanded to include the SEIFAC approach to the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme which ordinarily some farmers have jeopardized in the time past and still ongoing by not repaying back their loans. With the SEIFAC convenient debt recovery methodology, SEIFAC has a guaranteed and convenient access to funding which her members tend to benefit from the commitment, knowledge, innovations, methodology and specifically SEIFAC’s group dynamisms of cluster farming focused on the welfare of its rural poor smallholder farmers whose livelihood wholly depends on their farm enterprises.

What then is the CBN Anchor Borrower’s Programme

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in line with its developmental functions as enshrined in Section 31 of the CBN Act 2007, established the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to create economic links between smallholder farmers (SHFs) and reputable companies (anchors) involved in the production and processing of key agricultural commodities. The core of the Programme is to provide loans (in kind and cash) to smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production, create jobs, reduce food import bill towards conservation of foreign reserve.

Features of the Programme

Loan Limit; The maximum loan limit for each eligible farmer under the Programme, shall be decided based on CBN ratified Economics of Production (EOP) and validated land size.

Interest Rate

The Programme shall be administered at the prevailing interest rate for intervention funds as prescribed by the CBN from time to time.

Tenor; The tenor of loans under the Programme shall be based on the gestation period of the targeted commodity.

Repayment; Repayment shall be by produce and/or cash as may be prescribed by the CBN. The loans granted under the Programme shall be fully repaid within the tenor of the facility. Where the facility was accessed through a Commodity Association, the leadership of the Association shall be responsible for full repayment of facility granted to its members.

Collateral Requirements; The collateral requirements for Commodity Associations/Cooperatives (SEIFAC) under the Programme shall be as stipulated below:

(i) Joint and cross-guarantee of members; (ii) Equity contribution by the farmers of a minimum of 10 per cent of the loan amount as lien with the PFI; (iii) Salary domiciliation of beneficiaries for workers cooperatives; iv. Personal guarantees of the leadership (Executives and Board of Trustees) supported by individual statements of net worth; (v) Executed Global Standing Instruction (GSI) mandate; (vi) Title on farmland; (vii) All assets debenture which shall be registered with NCR.

Eligibility Criteria – Smallholder Farmer

Smallholder Farmer shall: (i) be a member of a farmer group; (ii) have a bank account with the PFI; (iii) provide a valid Bank Verification Number (BVN); (iv) not be a defaulting borrower; (v) have a validated farmland; (vi). provide 10 per cent minimum equity contribution; (vii) not participate under multiple associations in one cropping season.

Commodity Association (SEIFAC) shall:

Be duly registered by relevant government agencies; (ii) have a corporate governance structure in line with the Programme’s objectives at all levels; (iii) present off-taker(s) for the produce; (iv) champion a single commodity; (v) identify a PFI to partner with; (vi) ensure repayment of the facility.

SEIFAC’s Implementation Strategy

The cumbersomeness involved in chasing individual beneficiaries who farm on their respective pieces of land as beneficiaries under ABP over loan recovery has always ended in a loss. In a bit to curtail this dilemma, SEIFAC has adopted the cluster farming approach as the best farming methodology on the ABP implementation where SEIFAC Member Farmers will have to farm on contiguous piece(s) of land spanning several thousands of hectares depending on the availability of land at such cluster location.

Under this farming approach, the government/communities/farmers make available land for its indigenes/members to farm in a contiguous piece of land to enjoy internal economies of scale like the commercial farmers do. With this, the Smallholder Farmers will be able to overcome their peculiar challenge of non-payment of loans which will earn them credit worthiness as individuals and collectively as a cooperative society. In this model, the best agronomic practices are implored on managing the clusters which brings about increase in the Smallholder Farmers’ yields.

The Coordinator stated the advantages of cluster farming approach include but not limited to the followings: (1) Farming on contiguous piece(s) of land (2) Mechanized Farming System which takes away associated drudgery thus makes farming attractive to both the old and youths (3) Use of Quality Planting Materials and Farm Inputs that increases crops yields (4) Reduced production and transaction costs (5) Lower premium of risk.

The world over, cluster farming has brought a paradigm shift in which agriculture is no more considered as a thing of the poor or a cultural thing but a very lucrative business that supply and demand can never be at equilibrium giving the demographics of the global population.

The appraised position and mandate of SEIFAC in galvanizing and ensuring that beneficiaries of the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme under its (SEIFAC’s) auspices revealed the scope and parameters of the CBN’s guidelines and SEIFAC’s conformity to it.

It is crystal that SEIFAC has not gone beyond or fallen short in the scope of requirements in the implementation of its objectives and programmes under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’s Programme, but has rather, dutifully ensured that its subscribers benefit from the initiative of the Federal Government through its platform as a facilitator.

“Though, the bulk of the work rests on the table of CBN. It goes without saying that if CBN does not disburse (which will most likely be in kind), SEIFAC as a facilitator has little or nothing to do.

The management will also wish to refer her members to conduct a quick review on SEIFAC at www.seifac.org where you may understand that SEIFAC is implementing the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme an agricultural expansion programme of apex bank – CBN launched in 2015.

CBN is the sole financer of the ABP and until CBN disburses (CBN’s disbursement under ABP is in kind (inputs) and not in cash (money) SEIFAC as a  cooperative is just a platform for accessing the loan facility in this instance. For more detailed information, go to Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) Guidelines (Revised Guidelines) September, 2021. This information is available on Google search engine.