From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on Thursday read the riot act to food hoarders and smugglers currently making food prices artificially high to desist from such nefarious acts in their own interest. He assured that the apex bank was working with relevant agencies to ensure the stability of food prices in the country.
Emefiele stated these in Gombe at the flag-off of the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and the second cycle of the 2020 dry season distribution for the North East region under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). The Governor also warned those seeking to take advantage of scarcity of some products to hike prices to desist from such unpatriotic acts, stressing that it undermined the country’s economic plans. To ensure availability of food, he assured that the bank was committed to financing one million hectares of rice farms over this dry season, as it had begun to support cultivation for the second production cycle within the dry season. He added that the bank was committed to improving local production of wheat and reducing importation by 60 percent over the next two years. He, therefore, said there was no need to panic over the current prices of major staple food items, assuring that the prices will moderate in due course.
He saluted the resilience of farmers in Nigeria, who continue to farm to ensure food sufficiency in the country, in spite of the challenges of insecurity in some parts of the nation. Recounting the history of the ABP, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, he said the programme had become a game changer for financing smallholder farmers, and will ultimately help in achieving some of the goals of the government’s Economic Sustainability Plan.
While noting that the collaborative efforts towards self-sufficiency in food production had now turned into a movement, he said 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.