James Emejo in Abuja
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday restated the bank’s commitment to improve local production of wheat and reduce importation by 60 per cent over the next two years.
He also urged Nigerians not to panic over the current prices of major food items as the prices will soon fall.
Emefiele, at the launch of the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and dry season input distribution for the North-east region under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), in Gombe State, added that the apex bank is also positioned to ensure the integration of farmers into the federal government’s Economic Sustainability Programme, aimed at providing five million homes with electricity using solar energy.
He said under the arrangement, every farmer in the ABP would be eligible to get a solar home system to provide electricity to power their essential home appliances. They will also use produce from the farms to offset the amount of electricity consumed.
He, however, commended the resilience of farmers who continued to farm to ensure food sufficiency despite the challenges of insecurity in some parts of the country.
He also warned hoarders and smugglers of agricultural products, particularly rice, to desist from the malpractice.
He added that the CBN is working with agencies to ensure stability of food prices.
He cautioned those seeking to take advantage of scarcity of some products to hike prices to desist from such unpatriotic acts, which according to him, undermine the country’s economic plans.
Recounting the history of the ABP, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, Emefiele said the scheme had become a game-changer for financing smallholder farmers and would help in achieving some of the goals of the government to stabilise and sustain the economy.
He said the collaborative efforts towards self-sufficiency in food production had now turned into a movement, while 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.
He said the ABP had led to improvements in agricultural outputs as well as in improving incomes in rural communities.
According to him, the ABP achievements have demonstrated that Nigeria can achieve self-sufficiency in the production of staple food items within the shortest time possible.
He said: “It is also encouraging news, which presents different narratives which portend that most of our farmers are unable to go to their farms due to nationwide insecurity.”
Emefiele said the CBN had financed 3,038,649 farmers cultivating 3,805,844 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) in the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, from the inception of the scheme till date.
He said the CBN equally financed 221,450 farmers to cultivate 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 per cent in total number of farmers and hectares financed, respectively.
He assured the gathering that the bank was committed to financing one million hectares of rice farms over the dry season to boost availability of food.
Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru, commended the gains made under the CBN-ABP.