CBN’s Giant Strides towards Food Security

James Emejo writes that the CBN’s numerous interventions in agriculture has given a great boost towards achieving the federal government’s agenda on food security and self-sufficiency

Achieving food security remains one of the critical programmes of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, whom experts believed has done enough by providing support towards realising this objective.

No doubt the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had been instrumental to achieving the food security mandate of the federal government.

The bank in its developmental role had launched several initiatives aimed at repositioning agriculture, which had before now been relegated to the background by previous administrations.

Beginning with the exclusion of 41 items from accessing foreign exchange from the official windows, the CBN under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had taken the bull by the horn in ensuring that Buhari’s directive of ensuring that the country produces what it eats and eats what it produces came to fruition.

It is on record that the CBN’s Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) had been instrumental in the local rice revolution in the country, helping to drastically slash the country’s annual food import bill.

This was particularly referenced recently by Buhari when he disclosed during his Democracy Day broadcast that his administration’s agricultural policies particularly the ABP had led to a sharp decline in agricultural imports into the country, resulting in food import bill reduction from $2.23 billion in 2014 to $0.59 billion by 2018.
Buhari, recently reiterated his determination in ensuring that the country achieved food security during the life of his administration.

In aligning with the presidential directive on growing agriculture, Emefiele had in his
Five-Year Policy Thrust of the CBN (2019 – 2024), promised to consolidate on the success of the CBN ABP and other intervention programmes geared towards supporting the growth of agriculture and manufacturing.
He said, “In keeping with the recent Presidential Directives, we intend to: Boost productivity growth through the provision of improved seedlings, as well as access to finance for rural farmers in the agricultural sector, across 10 different commodities namely: rice, maize, cassava, cocoa, tomato, cotton, oil-palm, poultry, fish, and livestock/dairy.”

According to him, “Our choice of these 10 crops is driven by the amount spent on the importation of these items into the country, and the over 10 million jobs that could be created over the next five years if efforts are made to expand cultivation and processing of these items in Nigeria.

“We believe these measures will help to boost not only our domestic outputs but also improve our annual non-oil exports receipts from $2 billion in 2018 to $12 billion by 2023. Our intervention programmes will strengthen the linkage between farmers and processors/manufacturers agroby ensuring that the output of farmers is purchased by processors/manufacturers.

“This linkage with agro processors is necessary in order to prove that farmers are creditworthy individuals with bankable contracts. It will also help to unlock private capital flows from financial institutions to farmers, in order to enable farmers meet orders from agro processors.”

Intervention Programmes

Going by the progress so far made in its agricultural intervention programmes especially in recent times following harvest of produce and commodities, it is evident that the CBN initiatives have yielded positive results that could help materialise the government’s earnest expectations.

It is on record that for the timely interventions of the CBN in the agricultural sector, the global food shortages brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic would have dealt a devastating blow on the Nigerian economy – but for the level of local sufficiency which the country had attained in rice production among other commodities.
If anything, the ABP had proven the potency of the apex bank’s numerous interventions in agriculture.
No doubt, the restriction of access to foreign exchange on the 41 items has had a positive impact on the economy as it is on record that the implementation of the policy had created employment and helped to conserve the hitherto depleting foreign reserve.

Analysts have alluded to the fact that the restriction of access to foreign exchange placed on the 41 items made Nigerians to start looking inward for the production of goods and products that the country has comparative advantage to be produced locally.

In fact, the successful implementation of the 41 items policy gave birth to the other initiatives such as the ABP, which ignited the rice revolution across the country.

The success of the ABP had been amplified during the flag-off of the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and 2021 dry season input distribution under the CBN-Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) ABP as part of the 5th anniversary of the programme.

Emefiele, commenting on the successes of the CBN interventions in agriculture during the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting indicated that under the bank’s development finance initiatives, the sum of N756.51billion was granted to 3,734,938 small holder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, of which N120.24 billion was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the ABP.
He added that for the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), the sum of N121.57 billion was disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries.

Across the six geopolitical zones where the ABP is being implemented, the harvests had been characterised by the symbolic rice pyramids display as a demonstration of the potentials of the country in the production of the commodity as well as proof that the country had achieve self sufficiency in rice production.
In Kebbi, during the ABP 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and 2021 dry season input distribution flag-off, Emefiele had expressed optimism over the country’s capacity to achieve food self-sufficiency within the shortest time possible.

Increased Cultivation

He said the CBN and RIFAN had further targeted to cultivate 1 million hectares of rice farms, which represented over 350 per cent increase from the 221,450 cultivated in 2020.

According to him, 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 includingthe Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from inception till date.

He said the CBN had also financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 states under the 2020 wet season partnership with RIFAN.

In Ekiti, the CBN governor said the rice pyramids served as a movement to demonstrate that rice production is viable in all states of the federation adding that other states including Lagos, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Edo and Ekiti States – had all benefitted from CBN disbursements for various agricultural projects which are still ongoing, adding that its interventions cut across all the states of the federation.

Also, in Niger State, Emefiele said the ABP scheme had proven to be a game-changer in the financing of smallholder farmers in the country adding that the programme had revolutionised agricultural credit financing and remained the fulcrum of transformation initiatives in the sector.

The CBN governor assed that through the use of technology to boost productivity, the apex bank intended to work with farmers to achieve one million hectarage cultivation during the 2020 dry season from 500,000 hectarage in the preceding farming year.

According to him, with the deployment of technology which covered farmers enumeration, biometric capture and GPS mapping of farms, all embedded to enhance the operational efficiency of the ABP, the 2018 wet season witnessed a geometric rise in beneficiaries adding that about 275,000 farmers were empowered to cultivate 220,000 hectares across all the 36 States of the Federation and FCT.

The apex bank, during the exercise in Gombe State said the CBN was 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.

The initiative, he explained will ensure that every farmer in the ABP would be eligible to get a solar home system that will provide electricity to power their essential home appliances, adding that they will use produce from the farms to offset the amount of electricity consumed.

He also commended the resilience of Nigerian farmers who continued to farm to ensure food sufficiency in the country, in spite of the challenges of insecurity in some parts of the country.

But the CBN intervention was not limited to rice production alone as there had been positive traction along other commodity chains.

Emefiele recently announced that the bank remained committed to improving local production of wheat and reducing importation by 60 per cent over the next two years.

In Rivers State, the CBN boss, during the inauguration of the Rivers State Cassava Processing Plant in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state, said the country spent about $580m spent on importation of cassava byproducts.

He told stakeholders that the country could no longer afford to support continued importation of items that can be produced locally.

The CBN governor said the apex bank had set aside the sum of N1.5 billion for land clearing, urging the states, particularly the southern region to take advantage of the facility to open up their respective economy and advised them to woo private investors to their states to help resuscitate their economy to generate employment through agriculture, adding that this would also help the states boost their internally generated revenue.


However, Emefiele has variously been commended for his patriotism and selfless service towards the revival of key sector of the economy particularly agriculture through the ABP.

Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru, both commended the gains made in agriculture under the CBN-ABP as well as Emefiele’s commitment to the economy.
Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu said but for the CBN governor’s passion and selfless initiatives, little or nothing would have been achieved in agriculture adding that Emefiele’s commitment and support for agriculture was unrivaled.

“CBN under your watch has done extremely well,” he said.

Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, praised Emefiele for the development in rice production stressing that through policy guidance and CBN support, rice production had been greatly enhaced as well as milled and consumed locally while farmer have better income. Moreover, Abubakar, thanked Emefiele for his sincerity as well as putting the country first in the diversification efforts.

He said:”The CBN is working to substitute rice importatation and support the production of exportable crops. And this is driven by passion. I believe the country must thank you very much”.

His counterpart from Osun State, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola commended for the CBN governor for funding the ABP, which he said Buhari had used to enhance food security.

Also, Governor of Ekiti State/Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the CBN interventions had helped to reduce poverty in the country.

Related Articles