The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has denied accusations raised by dissatisfied individuals and groups, suggesting that its targeted interventions in the agricultural sector are tilted in favour of a section of the country.
Godwin Emefiele, the apex bank governor,dismissed the claims on Tuesday during the unveiling of the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and flag-off of the 2021 wet season input distribution in the South-West geo-political zone under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme held in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
According to Emefiele, contrary to views held by some individuals and interest groups, CBN’s interventions in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) were not only targeted at rice production but had expanded to over 21 crops, evenly spread across the country.
Describing criticisms against the Bank’s effort at boosting agriculture in Nigeria as unfair, he divulged that over N300 billion had been disbursed to companies operating in the southern part of Nigeria, citing companies and farmers across Lagos, Edo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River as major beneficiaries of
The CBN Governor further averred that a total of 3,107,890 farmers had been financed for the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 participating financial institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, from the inception of the programme till date. He added that under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, the Bank had also financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 States.
While also unveiling aggressive production plans for maize, wheat, soybeans, cassava, sorghum and cassava, he noted that the Bank’s backward integration drive with rice millers was also gaining momentum as the CBN intends to finance some millers to grow their own paddy during the current wet season. Emefiele equally disclosed that the Bank planned a minimum one million hectares of rice through a combination of RIFAN farmers and prime/private anchors for each planting season in 2021.
Addressing the current challenges in attaining food security in the country, he said synergy among stakeholders will surely catalyse the growth process, assuring that the CBN stood ready to offer effective partnership to deliver on this critical national mandate of attaining self-sufficiency in food production.
According to him, the sustainability of Nigeria’s current efforts in agricultural production can only be guaranteed if youths are attracted into agriculture as they remain the future of the Country.
The CBN Governor also reiterated the commitment to partner with the fiscal authorities to ensure the integration of Nigerian farmers into the Government’s Economic Sustainability Programme aimed at providing five million homes with electricity using solar energy. He also urged farmers to repay their loans in order to sustain the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
According to him, the Bank will develop a repayment framework that will allow farmers use their farm produce as repayment for the electricity consumed by the beneficiaries of the scheme. This is even as he expressed hope that the incentive would improve the standard of living of farmers in Nigeria, motivate prompt loan repayment and ultimately enhance the sustainability of the programme.
He explained that, under the programme, every farmer with a good repayment record in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme would be eligible to get a solar home system that will provide electricity to power their essential home appliances.
“Loan repayment is the hallmark of every credit cycle and the sustainability of the programme is hinged on farmers’ ability and willingness to repay their loans, and we are constantly engaging with them to enhance their trust in the system,” he stated.
Reiterating the massive potential in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, he stressed the need for more private sector investment in the agricultural value chain, noting that significant improvements in domestic production of staple food items, would help in attaining the country’s price stability goals while reducing its dependence on imported food items.