It was a retreat to assess the impact of the development finance intervention programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in recent years; an introspection into the journey so far with a focus on what needs to be done to improve the development finance initiatives of the bank. Of course, it was an opportunity for the apex bank to present its scorecard. CBN had disbursed a total of N9.714 trillion to finance its intervention programme in the various sectors of the Nigerian economy.
And so, when CBN director in charge of development finance, Philip Yila Yusuf stepped on the podium of the main auditorium of the CBN at its headquarters, he declared thusly: “Nigeria is on the path of sustainability and food security,” adding that “The entire agricultural value chain has seen a transformation not witnessed before.” CBN has an expanded brag list of testimonies from beneficiaries of its interventions. Jigawa state is top on the list.
For Jigawa state governor Mohammed Badaru who was at the retreat alongside other governors, it was an apt time to testify to the significant impact of the CBN programme in Jigawa. And so, he said with the interventions of the central bank in the rice value chain, his state has been able to move rice production from 92,500 tons per annum to 1,050 million; increased the number of rice processing centres from one to seven as at today.
“The CBN intervention has helped us to fulfil our campaign promises to our people. It is the support that pushed people to the farms. People have had to come back home from the cities to engage in farming activities,” he stated. He said the state engaged in production of varieties of rice to improve productivity.
He told the crowd that many direct and indirect jobs have also been created in the rice production value chain. Hundreds of people have reportedly left their base in Nigerian cities to participate in commercial rice production within the last five years, at least.
Prior to the discovery of crude oil, also known as the black gold, in Oloibiri, Bayelsa state, agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, accounting for about 95 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the fortunes of agriculture took a turn for the worse and began to nosedive so much so that the country became food import dependent, a situation that threatened her food security, territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Flowing from this undesirable scenario, the Central Bank rolled out a series of interventions to save the nation’s agriculture sector from extinction as well as guarantee food security for Africa’s largest economy. The interventions of the CBN in the agricultural sector started in 1977 with the introduction of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), designed to encourage banks to lend to farmers. Under the scheme, the CBN through the fund, guarantees loans to farmers up to 75 per cent of the amount in default net of any security realised.
According to data from the CBN, the ACGSF since inception till March 2021, has facilitated 1.180 million loans valued N122.632 billion to farmers across the country. Another intervention of the CBN in the agric sector is the Agricultural Credit Support Scheme (ACSS).
In a bid to encourage commercial farming on a large scale, the CBN in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (FMA&WR) in 2009 established the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) to provide finance for the country’s agricultural value chain, namely, production, processing, storage and marketing.
As at January 2021, banks under the CACS have disbursed N672.9 billion loans to fund 636 commercial farming projects while total loan repayment stood at N443.9 billion.
The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 is the major vehicle for delivering the interventions of the apex bank in the agricultural value chain.
Concerned about the huge foreign exchange spent by Nigeria importing food items that could be produced locally, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele urged everyone, including Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture, declaring the CBN’s readiness to support youths that are willing to engage in agriculture. This is even as the governor reiterated the bank’s opposition to the importation of maize into Nigeria.
Emefiele had noted that agriculture offered significant benefits for the youth, reiterating that the CBN had put in place several measures to improve access to credit for youths interested in agriculture under the ABP and the Agri Business Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).
“With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that “we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,’” he declared.
Governor Atiku Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi state, who represented President Buhari, while unveiling the pyramids, reassured the farmers, processors and other value chain participants of the support of government towards ensuring that they perform optimally. He said availability of inputs like high yield seedlings and fertilisers were being made available to farmers adequately in addition to prompt off-taking of produce.
In his remarks, Jigawa state governor recalled with nostalgia that the historical groundnut pyramids he read about in history books were today being seen physically in rice and maize across the country through the help of the CBN. He also encouraged youths to take to agriculture for wealth creation by embracing the schemes put in place by the bank.
There is no doubt that the CBN interventions in agriculture across the country, particularly in Jigawa state is paying off. It has drastically reduced the nation’s food import bill.
However, it is pertinent to call on farmers especially the wheat, rice and maize farmers in Jigawa state, to key into the apex bank’s interventions to substantially improve food production and ensure food security. The farmers can also benefit from the interventions, which will improve their status and standard of living.
Commending the CBN for injecting N50 billion into the Commodity Exchange initiative, the president, Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Bello Abubakar, said MAAN had recorded about 80 per cent loan recovery rate since the association began to participate in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in 2017. He nevertheless urged farmers to repay their loans to enable others also benefit from the scheme
Last modified: December 16, 2022