By Dipo Olowookere
Farm inputs worth millions of Naira were last week distributed to farmers in Cross River State by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in support of the government’s plan to make agriculture the next source of foreign exchange earning for the country.
The items were given to the farmers by the apex bank in collaboration with the Cross River State government.
Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who was represented at the event by the bank’s spokesman, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said the central bank will continue to support farmers across the country.
He urged beneficiaries of the scheme to take repayment terms seriously to enable the bank and government sustain the programme.
The CBN chief tasked the farmers to ensure they make good use of the farm inputs and other facilities given to them.
Mr Emefiele disclosed at the event that more than 12,000 farmers have already enrolled under the auspices of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).
He said further that over 400,000 farmers have been supported under Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to cultivate crops like rice, soya, maize, palm produce, cotton cassava among others.
The nation’s chief banker advised genuine farmers to key into the technology driven input distribution system with a view to benefiting from the low interest rate of nine per cent facility.
On his part, Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Professor Egrinya Eneji, reiterated that agriculture remains the channel for sustainable development for Nigeria hence the state government was pragmatic in leveraging the value chain opportunities offered by sector.
He said various initiatives of the CBN have not only made agricultural practise simple, but very profitable.
Also speaking at the event, Chairman of RIFAN in the state, Mr John Ettah, disclosed that provision of agricultural inputs has greatly encouraged farmers in the state, stressing that it was now possible to cultivate their farmlands all year round with ‘two wet’ and ‘one dry’ season farming.
He further hinted that rice farmers in the state have cultivated 12,000 hectares of farmland with an expected average yield of five metric tons per hectare.
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