From Uche Usim, Ado Ekiti
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday dismissed reports that his economic intervention programmes were concentrated in the north, clarifying that all regions have been accommodated, especially the southern firms that have received over N300 billion to support food security initiatives.
Emefiele made the clarification in Ado Ekiti at the unveiling of Ekiti State Rice Rice Pyramid Project and 2020 wet season harvest aggregation/flag off of the 2021 wet season input distribution in the South West under the RIFAN-CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Present at the event were Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa, Rotimi Akeredeolu of Ondo, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun and Dr Kayode Fayemi, the host.
According to Emefiele, between N600-700 billion has been released for local cultivation of over 21 crops under the ABP.
‘Two weeks ago, some critics said we targeted ABP on some sections of the country. This is an unfair statement. For the records, southern part of the country has benefited immensely from the ABP,’ he said.
Between N600-700 billion has been disbursed to the south. Out of this amount, over N300 billion was spent on ABP through companies operating in the south.
‘Over N10 billion was disbursed to Lagos for 32 tonnes per hour rice mill. Lagos, Kogi, Niger and Kwara have been supported to produce rice paddies to feed the mills. We’re also supporting cocoa and other crops in the south.
‘In the South-South, we’ve disbursed N10 billion to Edo State in 2019 to companies going into oil palm. Another N7 billion for companies to process the oil. N20 billion was disbursed to Okomu Oil and Presco.
‘We’ll be back to Ekiti State in July to inaugurate a milk production outfit to show Nigerians that we can produce our own milk,’ he explained.
Emefiele described the event as highly significant as it is the first ever grain pyramid in the South West.
‘We believe significant improvements in domestic production of staple food items, would help in attaining our price stability goals while reducing our dependence on imported food items.
‘From the inception of the ABP till date, we have financed 3,107,890 farmers for the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 states of the Federation and FCT,’ he said.
The CBN Governor noted that the implementation of the ABP, like any other smallholder financing programmes, has been quite challenging due to a plethora of factors which include land holding system, prolonged poor productivity per hectare, poor adoption of modern agronomic practices, lack of adequate mechanization support services, post-harvest losses, among others.
‘Under the 2020 wet season RIFAN-CBN partnership, we financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 States. The pyramids being unveiled today are part of the harvest from the various fields from the South West and other neighbouring States to demonstrate the spread of the movement and provide evidences that rice production is viable in all states of the Federation. Beyond RIFAN, we have also supported a number of prime/private anchors. Omoluabi Farms (Ekiti), Time Sellers (Ogun), Truechem (Ogun), Wems Agro (Ondo) and many more awaiting disbursements for the 2021 wet season,’ he added.
On loan repayment Emefiele said the apex bank was constantly engaging with farmers to enhance their trust in the system.
‘The CBN is also positioned to ensure the integration of our farmers into the Government’s Economic Sustainability Program, aimed at providing 5 million homes with electricity using solar energy. Under this program, every farmer with a good repayment record in the Anchor Borrowers’ Program is eligible to get a solar home system that will provide electricity to power their essential home appliances. We will develop a repayment framework that will allow farmers to use their farm produce as repayment for the electricity consumed by the beneficiaries of the scheme. This incentive would improve the standard of living of our farmers and should motivate prompt loan repayment and enhance the sustainability of the programme,’ he added.
In his remarks, Ekiti State Governor Dr Kayode Fayemi explained that the agriculture revolution programme championed by the CBN will create massive jobs for Nigerians.
Also speaking at the event, the Kebbi State Governor and Vice Chairman, National Council on Food Security, Mr Atiku Bagudu, said that the CBN has supported all states of the federation to deepen agriculture.
‘While nations caved in to the pressure of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria was able to pull through two economic recession as a result of the strong support of CBN,’ he added.
In his goodwill message, the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredeolu, stated that the rice pyramid remains a thing of joy for the southwest, adding that President Buhari has done well to tackle food insecurity via agricultural development.
‘We couldn’t have got to this level without Mr President and CBN Governor supporting the growing of various agricultural products
‘We need CBN to help us clear land as we’re determined to grow agriculture.’
In his remarks, Mr Aminu Goronyo, the National President of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), said one million farmers will be mobilised to go into massive rice farming.
He described the rice pyramid as one of the major achievements of the Buhari administration.