The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the bank, has shown the need for all stakeholders to sustain current efforts championed by the bank to galvanise agricultural production towards meeting the requirements of Nigeria’s growing population.
Emefiele gave the charge in Zauro, Kebbi State, on yesterday during the flag-off of the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and 2020 dry season input distribution under the CBN-Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, according to a statement that was issued by the apex bank. It is part of the fifth anniversary of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
He said Nigeria was naturally blessed to meet her food requirement and had no reason to continually repeat mistakes of the past of neglecting agriculture.
“The rhetoric around neglect of previous years will remain part of our history and the best time to correct those mistakes is now and every stakeholder must contribute their quota to guarantee the realisation of these national targets.
“COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns globally have shown that nations only export out of their reserves. Let us start building our own reserves now,” he added.
The flag-off, which comes barely three months after the CBN showcased sky-high pyramids in Minna, Niger State, to highlight its intervention in the maize value chain, also featured the display of pyramids, which were rice harvests brought in by farmers in the state.
He noted that the ABP, which is an essential part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive for economic diversification, had improved the fortunes of rural farmers, transforming agriculture into a potential for economic growth.
According to Emefiele, the ABP in the past five years, had been characterised with huge successes, learning points and challenges. Specifically, he noted that a total of 2,923,937 farmers cultivating 3,647,643 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 participating Financial Institutions had been financed in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from inception till date.
He also disclosed that the bank, under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 states.
“The north-west zone with 85,261 farmers that cultivated 120,218 hectares represented 38.5 per cent in total number of farmers and 54.3 per cent in total number of hectares financed,” he disclosed, adding that the massive pyramids being launched in Kebbi were harvests from various fields across Kebbi State and a confirmation of the positive outlook of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
Emefiele said the partnership between the CBN and the Kebbi State government and RIFAN aimed at strategically complementing the Economic Sustainability Plan of the Buhari administration. Following the president’s approval of the resuscitation of the Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) and the commitment of N50billion by the CBN and other stakeholders, he said a vibrant commodity exchange would enhance post-harvest handling, guarantee effective pricing for farmers, minimise the adverse effect of middle men and ultimately transfer the gains from primary production to other nodes of the value chain.
While acknowledging the importance of loan repayment to the sustainability of the programme, he stressed that the CBN was constantly engaging the farmers to enhance their trust in the system, provide a competitive price arrangement and facilitate effective market linkages for their outputs.