As the new company to help Nigeria conserve $1 billion in imports finally berths, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has explained how its various intervention programmes would yield more investments and boost the nation’s foreign reserves.
According to its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the latest intervention on the bank’s radar is cattle ranching, which in addition to Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), the N500 billion Export Stimulation Facility (ESF) as well as the N50 billion direct intervention via the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) would boost non-oil export.
The regulator announced at the weekend in Owo, Ondo State, that the doors of apex bank are wide open to any entrepreneur with “laudable investments that would help drive economic growth, reduce unemployment and increase social cohesion, as well as help to support CBN’s determination to increase local production of critical agriculture produce, reduce imports of items that could be made in the country, and help conserve foreign exchange.
“What we at the CBN have held ourselves out to do is to give support to anybody that wants to tap the potential that God has given to our country by providing access to finance and creating job opportunities for the youths,” he stated.
On the cattle ranching, he said his plan to turn the adversity of the herdsmen rampaging the rural communities into opportunities is in the works, saying, “we would need the support of the state governments to ensure that we have ranches!” and “five states have indicated interest.”
Hear him: “When the issue of herdsmen came up at the National Executive Council (NEC), Governor Akeredolu said we should look at the opportunities, rather than the adversities, which the herdsmen can bring to our country. I quickly latched on to this and thought how we could turn the adversity of the herdsmen into opportunities. I am happy to learn that Ondo State, among other states, has thousands of hectares of land where Chief Obafemi Awolowo had a ranch. I learnt that the facilities are still there to water. So what does it take to contain the herds in a particular spot; provide them with water; provide them with green grass; fatten the cows and take the milk in them? By this, we will now seize the opportunity to face those who believe they can continue to import milk into this country to say no! We can also produce milk in our own country.
“I once told the management of the West Africa Milk Company that before I was born, we were importing milk. What does it take to produce milk if not just from the breast of cow, and, maybe, pasteurise it; turn it into powdered milk or liquid milk form?
Emefiele said the CBN would need the support of state governments to ensure that we have ranches. “We have five states that have indicated interest that those herds can come to their locations; Ondo is one of them. The rest are Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Kogi states. We can turn the adversity created by these herdsmen into opportunities. I keep on saying that this country has opportunities; this country does not have extreme weather. This time that is considered the hottest season, we can still see green vegetation all around. This means that if you dig few feet, you can still find water. You can do all-year round farming if supported.”
Responding, Governor Rotimi Akredolu said every state should establish a ranch. “We need ranches; we cannot run away from that. At the end of the day, we will find a way to encourage the nomads to have a settled life,” he said.
He explained that the ranch in Ondo State, the Akunnu Ranch, is presently under the Odua Investment. “We have said we want to work with them to establish some and make them functional. We can go and buy their cattle, bring them here, husband them at the ranch and feed them well. With that, we will be buying better cows,” he stated.
In his view, Mr. Elmar Dorenkamp, the Managing Director of Big Dutchman, one of the technical partners of the Greenfield egg powderisation plant, said the initiative would reduce the seasonal egg glut suffered by poultry farmers in Nigeria and significantly reduce the over $1 billion annual import of powdered eggs.
“This project is positioned to be a foreign exchange earner for Nigeria through the exportation of powdered eggs that meet the European Union standard because of the OEM and Big Dutchman, Actini, Marcel, Moba and Buschhoff (the project partners),” he said.
Recall that the ABP was designed to support smallholder farmers by providing them with the requisite training, tools and funds at single digit interest rates to enable them improve cultivation of crops such as maize, soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat. The programme also provides a ready market for farmers by linking them with credible offtakers and processors of their produce.
Since commencement of the programme in November 2015, Emefiele said CBN, in partnership with state governments and several private sector groups, has disbursed a cumulative sum of N55.526 billion to over 250,000 farmers who cultivated almost 300,000 hectares of farmland for rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soybeans, cassava, etc.” Two years into its implementation, the programme has contributed to the creation of an estimated 890,000 direct and 2.6 million indirect jobs,” he added.