By Victor Uzoho
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed that the apex bank is targeting a 10% increase in credit to the agricultural sector by 2024.
Emefiele disclosed this at a dinner session with the board of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in Abuja.
According to him, the CBN has disbursed about $2 billion out of the $2.5 billion earmarked for key initiatives in the manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and services sectors to over three million farmers.
The farmers have cultivated over 4.7 million hectares of arable land in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the Anchors Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Speaking on the government’s interventions in the agriculture sector, Emefiele said the ABP has helped farmers to significantly improve their yields and has contributed significantly to Nigeria’s journey towards food self-sufficiency.
He said: “For example, we have seen the re-emergence of the rice pyramids. Rice production has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons yearly, from less than four million metric tons recorded in 2015, before the introduction of the ABP.
“There were only 15 standard rice mills in Nigeria before the launch of the Anchor Borrowers Programme. As of today, we have over 50 standards and integrated rice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment.
“All these were done in partnership with deposit money banks who serve as our identification, risk appraisal and distribution mechanism for these interventions.”
I think the most important thing was the move we made to open up the Nigerian economy once more. We made a strong move. We have no option; the economy would crash if we don’t do so. And there was so much pressure on the government.
Emefiele added that Nigeria’s economic recovery was being aided by the growth of over four million farmers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and manufacturers, who are creating and growing businesses that are enabling growth in manufacturing and ICT due to improved access to credit.
He noted that the central banks in the continent and the financial services sector have critical roles to play in powering the solutions to the issues of food security and job creation in Africa.
According to him, investments in agriculture and related sectors including distribution and storage systems, and providing market infrastructure remains critical to building a cost-effective, viable and sustainable food system in Africa.
On his part, the Chairman of UBA Group, Tony Elumelu, said the private sector coalition has pooled about N100 billion to help fight insecurity and boost the capacity of security agencies to deal with the challenges facing Nigeria.
Elumelu said the private sector believes that well-armed security operatives will go a long way in helping to assure the security of the nation.
He noted that it was under the COVID-19 pandemic that some Nigerians realised what the private sector could do under the leadership of the CBN Governor.
He said: “I think the most important thing was the move we made to open up the Nigerian economy once more. We made a strong move. We have no option; the economy would crash if we don’t do so. And there was so much pressure on the government.”