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CBN targets 60% cut in wheat importation

…warns hoarders, smugglers …says no panic over food price

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said that the apex bank is committed to improving local production of wheat and reducing its importation by 60 per cent over the next two years. Emefiele, who stated his in Gombe yesterday 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), said there was no need to panic over the current prices of He warned hoarders and smugglers of products such as rice to desist from the unacceptable act, noting that the CBN was working with relevant agencies to ensure the stability of food prices in the country.

The CBN governor also cautioned those seeking to take advantage of scarcity of some products to hike prices to have a rethink, stressing that such acts undermined the country’s economic plans. He saluted the resilience of farmers in Nigeria, who, according to him, 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 (ESP). 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 value chain. According to him, “the ABP has led to significant improvements in agricultural outputs as well as in improving incomes in our rural communities. The achievements that have been recorded have also helped to show that Nigeria can, indeed, achieve self-sufficiency in the production of staple food items within the shortest time possible.

“It is also encouraging news, which presents different narratives that portend that most of our farmers are unable to go to their farms due to nationwide insecurity.” Emefiele further disclosed that the apex bank had financed 3,038,649 farmers cultivating 3,805,844 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 participating financial institutions in the 36 states of the federation and FCT, from the inception of the scheme till now. He said that the CBN equally financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 states under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, adding that the North-East zone, with 44,870 farmers that cultivated 44,870 hectares, represented 20.26 per cent in total number of farmers and hectares financed, respectively.

To ensure availability of food, he assured that the CBN 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. Emefiele said the CBN was also positioned to ensure the integration of Nigerian farmers into the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan, aimed at providing five million homes with electricity using solar energy. Under this arrangement, he disclosed 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 repayment for the electricity consumed, would be paid using produce from the farms.

Although he admitted that Nigeria was still far from achieving its ultimate desire of self-sufficiency in food production, Emefiele said the growth process had seen several layers of control added to improve on transparency and accountability among all stakeholders. Reaffirming the CBN’s belief in the potential inherent in the country’s agricultural sector, he stressed the need to harness this in order to diversify the Nigerian economy.

In his remarks, the Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event to flagoff the distribution of input in the North-East zone, said the Federal Government was commitment to sustaining investments in the agricultural sector in order to ramp up domestic production of food. He said the Buhari administration was working with states across all the geo-political zones to ensure the local production of crops in which they had comparative advantage. He, therefore, urged Nigerian farmers to cue into government’s effort to enhance food security in Nigeria. Also speaking, host Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, and his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Badru, commended the gains made under the CBN-initiated ABP.

 

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