…tasks youths on agriculture development projects
Godwin Emefiele , governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) , has reiterated the apex bank’s opposition to maize importation, noting that Nigerian maize farmers have what it takes to close the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.
The CBN governor made the statement in Katsina on Thursday, during the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and flag-off of the 2021 Maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
According to him, asides the release of 100,000 metric tonnes of maize to the market through the major producers, the CBN and the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) had embarked on renewed efforts aimed at increasing the target hectarage for 2021 to 500,000 ha from the 2020 target of 250,000 ha. He added that to achieve the target, the bank had resorted to introducing the use of contiguous land, high yielding seeds, mechanization, leveraging technology for land mapping and monitoring as well as expanding the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR).
“With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,’’ he declared.
Speaking further, Emefiele explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors which would in turn impact positively on current poultry feed prices, as over 60 per cent of maize produced in the country are used for producing poultry feed.
He thereafter appealed to all stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to sustain the current efforts to galvanize agricultural production to meet the requirements of Nigeria’s growing population, stressing that the nation could not continue to dwell on the neglect of past years if it was determined to realize the national target of producing what Nigerians eat and eating what is produced in Nigeria.
Justifying the bank’s continued strategic intervention in the value chains of focal crops, Emefiele said the CBN was leading the revolution, considering that the impact of its monetary policy measures would be limited, if the monetary authority in collaboration with the fiscal authorities failed to address some of the structural constraints that limit productivity in key sectors of our economy such as agriculture. He also averred that the CBN’s intervention was in line with its mandate and aims at ensuring price stability as well as improved availability of staple food items.
While noting that agriculture offered significant benefits for the youth, Emefiele enjoined Nigerian youths to embrace and promote agriculture, adding that the apex bank is prepared to support youths that are willing to engage in the sector and has put in place several measures to improve access to credit for youths interested in Agriculture under the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Agri Business Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme(AGSMEIS).
He expressed belief that Nigerian youth could leverage their talents, along with technological tools to improve farm productivity and delivery of agricultural produce to markets. According to him, groups of youth with contiguous land for farming are eligible to seek the CBN’s support through the CBN prime anchor arrangement.
“The CBN will not only provide access to credit for these youths but will also provide guarantees that their produce will be purchased by a prime anchor at agreed prices,” he assured.
Also speaking at the event, Bello Masari, the Katsina State governor, said the state had suffered a setback in agriculture as over sixty thousand hectares of farmlands were uncultivated due to insurgency, which hindered farmers from gaining access to their means of livelihood.
While unveiling the pyramids, Atiku Bagudu,Kebbi State governor, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, reassured the farmers, processors and other value chain participants of the government’s support towards ensuring that they perform optimally.
He stated that relevant inputs like high yield seedlings and fertilizers were being made available to farmers adequately in addition to prompt off-taking of produce. He further assured residents of the area that the government was taking the security challenge with every seriousness and had resolved to stem it. He therefore commended the resilience of farmers for the quantity of maize produced amidst the insecurity.
In his remarks, Badaru Abubakar, Jigawa state governor recalled with nostalgia that the historical groundnut pyramids he read about in history books were today being seen physically in rice and maize across the country through the help of the CBN. He also encouraged youths to take to agriculture for wealth creation by embracing the schemes put in place by the CBN.
On his part,AbdulMumin Kabir, the emir of Katsina, bemoaned the security situation in the area and appealed for serious interventions in order to encourage farming activities and sustain the success recorded so far.
Commending the CBN for injecting N50billion into the Commodity Exchange initiative,Bello Abubakar, president, Maize Association of Nigeria said the association had recorded about 80 per cent loan recovery rate since the association began to participate in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in 2017. He also urged farmers to repay their loans to enable others to benefit from the scheme.