… As Emefiele salutes Nigerian farmers
By Etuka Sunday
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has again saluted the resilience of farmers in Nigeria, who continue to farm to ensure food sufficiency in the country, in spite of the challenges of insecurity in some parts of the nation.
This is even as he warned hoarders and smugglers of products such as rice to desist from such as the Bank, noting that the Bank is working with relevant agencies to ensure the stability of food prices in the country.
Mr. Emefiele stated these in Gombe on Thursday, March 25, 2020, at the flag-off of the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and the second cycle of the 2020 dry season distribution for the North East region under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Recounting the history of the ABP, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, he said the programme had become a game changer for financing smallholder farmers, and will ultimately help in achieving some of the goals of the Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan.
While noting that the collaborative efforts towards self-sufficiency in food production had now turned into a movement, he said the symbolic display of crop pyramids from various fields in the region reinforced the massive potential in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which should encourage more private sector investment in the agricultural value chain.
According to him, “the ABP has led to significant improvements in agricultural outputs as well as in improving incomes in our rural communities. The achievements that have been recorded has also helped to show that Nigeria can indeed achieve self-sufficiency in the production of staple food items within the shortest time possible.
“It is also encouraging news which presents different narratives which portend thatmost of our farmers are unable to go to their farms due to nationwide insecurity,” he added.
Mr. Emefiele further disclosed that the Bank had financed 3,038,649 farmers cultivating 3,805,844 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, from the inception of the scheme till now.
He said that the CBN equally financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 States under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, adding that
the North-East zone, with 44,870 farmers that cultivated 44,870 hectares, represented 20.26% in total number of farmers and hectares financed, respectively.
The Governor also warned those seeking to take advantage of scarcity of some products to hike prices to desist from such unpatriotic acts, stressing that it undermined the country’s economic plans. To ensure availability of food, he assured that the Bank was committed to financing one million hectares of rice farms over this dry season, as it had begun to support cultivation for the second production cycle within the dry season. He added that the Bank was committed to improving local production of wheat and reducing importation by 60 percent over the next two years. He therefore said there was no need to panic over the current prices of major staple food items, assuring that the prices will moderate in due course.
Emefiele said the CBN was also positioned to ensure the integration of Nigerian farmers into the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Programme, aimed at providing five million homes with electricity using solar energy. Under this arrangement, he disclosed that every farmer in the Anchor Borrowers Programme would be eligible to get a solar home system that will provide electricity to power their essential home appliances, adding that repayment for the electricity consumed, would be paid using produce from the farms.
Although he admitted that Nigeria was still far from achieving its ultimate desire of self-sufficiency in food production, Emefiele said the growth process, which had seen several layers of control added to improve on transparency and accountability among all stakeholders, reaffirmed the Bank’s belief in the potential inherent in the country’s agricultural sector. He therefore stressed the need to harness these in order to diversify the Nigerian economy.
In his remarks, the Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event to flag-off the distribution of input in the North-East zone, said the Federal Government was commitment to sustaining investments in the agricultural sector in order to ramp up domestic production of food.