From Uche Usim, Daura
President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele on Monday inaugurated the first National Agriculture Land Development Authority (NALDA) integrated farm estate in Suduje Daura, Katsina State, aimed at tackling the food insufficiency crisis and boosting exports of agricultural products.
Also at the event were the Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari; his Kebbi State counterpart, Atiku Bagudu; the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika; the Director General, NALDA, Paul Ikonne, federal and state lawmakers, among others.
Speaking at the event, President Buhari said that the project was a journey towards guaranteeing food security in the country and ensuring the greater involvment of the youth in the agriculture value chain.
He assured that Nigeria, on his watch, will produce what it eats.
“The integrated farming scheme creates a communal system that promotes food security. I reiterate my commitment that getting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty is doable. We have good climate and soil. No excuse is enough to run a mono economy, especially with the volatile nature of oil.
“We need to earn more forex through agriculture. This project shows our genuine desire to meet food sufficiency.
I direct all government institutions to work in synergy to diversify the economy and work with NALDA to replicate this in all the senatorial zones of Nigeria”, he stated.
The President further said that he believes that once Nigeria became sufficient in food crops and animal production, the country will be positioned to be a major exporter of food and non-food agriculture products.
“We’re seeing a rise in public and private sector involvement in agriculture, especially the youth. “There is also the migration from subsistence to mechanised farming. Farming has become more fashionable. It’s a revolution in agric sector”, he said.
In his remarks at the event, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, revealed that since the inception of the Buhari administration, pragmatic steps have been taken to stimulate investments in critical sectors and segments of the economy, particularly those with high-growth impact and employment-elastic potential.
“In line with this vision, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced several lending programmes and provided finance to these sectors and segments, with their implementation tailored to support the administration’s policy of repositioning Nigeria to become a self-sufficient food producer, creating millions of jobs and supplying our domestic industries with their raw material needs. Our development finance efforts were also driven by the need to diversify the economy by reversing the ugly trend of relying largely on revenues from crude oil.
“In pursuance of the drive to diversify our economy, with emphasis on non-oil exports through agricultural revolution, our Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) has become a game changer for financing smallholder farmers, who are leading our efforts at improving the cultivation of agricultural commodities such as rice, cassava, maize, tomatoes, fish, cotton, oil palm, cocoa and wheat. The Programme also links smallholder farmers to agro-processors and manufacturers who provide quality inputs and trainings in best farming practices to ensure high yield and output. Since November 2015, the ABP has financed 3,734,938 smallholder farmers cultivating 4,648,880 hectares of 21 commodities across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT.
“In a bid to ensure that we tackle youth unemployment rate, in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS) and the Private Sector-led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (p-AADS). AADS aims to engage 370,000 youths in agricultural production in collaboration with state governments while p-AADS which was just introduced in 2020 to complement AADS, operates by exploring private sector partnership to facilitate more rapid land clearing for production of high-demand agricultural commodities. The primary focus of these Schemes is to accelerate land development through the opening of virgin lands, provision of agricultural infrastructure that will enhance industrialization, improve productivity per hectare and reduce post-harvest losses.
“The Bank also engages with youth-focused agricultural value chain players in the private sector, such as AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited and Thrive Agric Limited to deepen youth participation in agriculture. In order to accelerate the potential gains of the p-AADS scheme, it is crucial that relevant agencies such as NALDA support the Bank’s efforts by facilitating access to contiguous land for National agricultural productivity and consequently, youth employment creation.
“Other interventions of the Bank include the Agri/Business Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AgSMEIS) and the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), which were introduced to support micro, small and medium enterprises across the country and to help cushion devastating consequences of the Covid-19 on businesses and households. Under AgSMEIS, we have disbursed loans to 29,023 projects across the 36 states and the FCT, of which 16% of beneficiaries are in the North-West, with Katsina State accounting for 21% of North-West beneficiaries. Under the Targeted Credit Facility, 631,738 businesses and households across the country have been supported, with 95,011 businesses and households having benefitted in the North West” Emefiele explained.
He added that the CBN was also positioned to ensure the integration of our farmers into the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan, which is focused on providing five million homes with electricity using renewable energy.
“Under the programme, farmers with good repayment records under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) shall be eligible to get solar home systems (SHS) to supply electricity to their homes. “The Bank will develop a repayment framework that will allow the farmers to use their farm produce to pay for electricity consumed under the scheme. This initiative is expected to improve the standard of living of our smallholder farmers across the country and motivate prompt loan repayment, as well as enhance the sustainability of the programme. The Bank is indeed ready to partner with NALDA and explore the potential of providing affordable and accessible finance to the beneficiaries under the programme to scale up productivity, he noted assured.