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Published On: Wed, Dec 4th, 2019

CBN supports creation of over 2.5m jobs across agricultural value chain -Emefiele

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By Etuka Sunday

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday disclosed how its development finance interventions have help to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by small holder farmers, and also supported the creation of over 2.5 million jobs across the agricultural value chain.
CBN’s governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele made the disclosure at the 28th Seminar for Finance Correspondents & Business Editors, currently holding in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Represented by the Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, Emefiele said, “Our Development Finance interventions have helped to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by small holder farmers.
“We have also improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro-processors and industrial firms in the sourcing of raw materials.
“So far, the programme has supported more than 1.5m farmers across all the 36 States of Nigeria, in cultivating 16 different commodities over 1.4 million hectares of farmland. It has also supported the creation of over 2.5m jobs across the agricultural value chain,” he said.
Declaring the Seminar opened, the apex bank governor, noted that it was the bank’s game changing intervention in the rice value chain in Kebbi and other rice-producing states across the country that has increased local rice production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017 as well as cotton intervention with the flag-off of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers, cultivating 150,000 hectares in 23 States of the Federation.
He said, “Currently the cotton planted by these farmers has begun fruiting, while some are ready for harvest and off-take.
“We are currently also paying additional attention to cassava because the commodity has many different uses along the value chain. The value chain has enormous potential for employing over 2 million people in Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, the theme of the Seminar: “Galvanizing Development Finance and Monetary Policy for Growth” was relevant, considering the evolving interconnectedness between development finance and monetary policy, not only in Nigeria, but in other economies across the world.
He said, the bank’s approach to stimulating economic development is three-pronged, centered on Agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Infrastructure.
“You are no doubt aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria has transcended her core mandate of maintaining monetary, price and financial system stability, to undertake developmental initiatives with a view to spurring economic growth and job creation.
“Our efforts at these development finance initiatives have helped to accelerate the actualization of the Federal Government’s economic diversification programme. Diversifying our economic base presents a more sustainable and stable option.
“Given the foregoing, it is our conviction that focusing our developmental efforts on sectors with inherent potential for growth, employment and accretion to foreign reserves, would enhance the fortune of the Nigerian economy,” he said.
Emefiele said, the bank increased its lending to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, through targeted intervention schemes such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility.
“In particular, we sought to improve domestic supply of four commodities (rice, fish, sugar, and wheat), which consume about N1.3 trillion annually in our nation’s import bill.
“The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) which was launched in November 2015, was designed to build partnerships between small holder farmers and reliable large-scale agro-processors, with a view to increasing agricultural output, while improving access to credit for farmers.
“Our targeted focus on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors was driven by the vast opportunities for growth in these sectors given our high population. These sectors have the ability to absorb the growing pool of eligible workers in our effort to meet local demand and save critical foreign reserves,” he said.
The Governor said, the bank’s recent experience with recession attests to the value of effective implementation of monetary policy.
“Though we adopted unconventional or heterodox monetary policies, they were however, well thought through and have been yielding significant gains for the Nigerian economy.
“Noticeably, the GDP recovery in the third quarter of 2017, which has been sustained for 9 successive quarters after 5 consecutive quarters of negative growth.
“This unconventional monetary policy initiatives have been premised on ensuring credit delivery to critical sectors of the economy.
“This has informed the directive to Deposit Money Banks to maintain a minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 65% by the end of December 2019.
“The Bank is also creating the necessary eco-system to inculcate a better credit culture among Nigerians,” he said.

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