The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said the intervention programme by the bank to boost the country’s agriculture sector has not been lopsided just as it has so far disbursed over N300 billion via the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to various companies operating in the southern parts of the country. CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, confirmed the figure on Tuesday in Ekiti at flag off of the state’s Rice Pyramid and the 2021 wet season cultivation. He faulted the assertion by critics that the bank’s agriculture interventions were skewed to a particular region.
The occasion was witnessed by five state governors – Ekiti, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Osun state, Alhaji Adegboyega Isiaka, Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, and his Jigawa counterpart, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar. Emefiele said all states in southern part of the country had been touched by the CBN’s agriculture interventions. CBN’s rice pyramid project in Ekiti was a continuation of series of commodity flag off started by the bank. “We are supporting over 21 different crops through Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). Only a few weeks ago, I read in a newspaper that our agriculture intervention is targeted at a particular section of the region. This is an unfair statement to make. For record purposes, southern part of the country has been massively supported by our interventions. “Between N600 billion and N700 billion disbursed via ABP, over N300 billion was disbursed to companies operating in southern parts of the country.
Over N10 billion disbursed to Lagos state 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 where I come from, we disbursed N10 billion to Edo State in 2019 to companies going into oil palm. Another N7 billion for companies to process the oil. We disbursed N20 billion to Okomu oil palm and Presco.
We will back to Ekiti State in July to support milk production to show Nigerians that we can produce our own milk,” the CBN governor said. He described the ABP as a game changer for financing smallholder farmers, noting that it would ultimately help in achieving some of the goals of the government’s Economic Sustainability Plan. He said implementation of ABP in the past five years led to significant improvements in agricultural outputs as well as increase in incomes in rural communities.
“From inception till date, we have financed 3,107,890 farmers for the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 financial institutions in the 36 states of the federation and FCT,” he said. In his address, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, described the flag off a demonstration of vision of his administration’s determination at ensuring accelerated development of agriculture. A largely agrarian state in Nigeria, Fayemi said Ekiti invested in extensive commercial agriculture, focusing on rice, cassava, cocoa, oil-palm and yam tubers. “Rice has become the most consumed staple in Nigeria.
In the year 2018 alone, Nigeria imported 0.58 trillion worth of rice valued at $1.65 Billion. The present policy of support for local rice production by President Buhari has contributed immensely to food security in Nigeria. Considering the huge market and high population of Nigeria with the urgent need to eradicate poverty, it has successfully demonstrated the need to look inwards by taking advantage of the available fertile land, perennial river bodies and human resources for the production of rice.”