By Adedapo Adesanya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that its intervention policies in key products in the agricultural sector have helped the country save not less than N1.3 trillion in import bills.
CBN Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Mr Edward Adamu, made this known at the ongoing 28 Seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors in Owerri, Imo State on Tuesday.
Mr Adamu, who was represented by the Director, Communications Department, Mr Isaac Okorafor, speaking on Galvanising Development Finance and Monetary Policy for Growth, said this major intervention had occurred as regards the reduction in the importation of rice, wheat, fish, and sugar.
He then added that the apex bank was determined and committed to improving domestic supply of these four commodities, saying, “As you are aware, the CBN increased its lending to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.”
“This is done through targeted intervention schemes such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility.
“In particular, we sought to improve domestic supply of four commodities, rice, fish, sugar, and wheat which consumed about N1.3 trillion annually in our nation’s import bill,” he said further.
Mr Adamu also said that the CBN’s efforts at these development finance initiatives was in line with the actualizing the Federal Government’s economic diversification programme, adding that diversifying the economic base presented a more sustainable and stable option.
“It is our conviction that focusing our developmental efforts on sectors with inherent potential for growth, employment and accretion to foreign reserves would enhance the fortune of the Nigerian economy,” he said.
He stated that with this, there had also been a significant increase in non-oil exports particularly in regards to agriculture.
“Our development finance interventions have helped to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by small holder farmers.
“We have also improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro-processors and industrial firms in the sourcing of raw materials.
“So far, the programme has supported more than 1.5 million farmers across all the 36 States of the country in cultivating 16 different commodities on over 1.4 million hectares of farmland.
“It has also supported the creation of over 2.5 million jobs across the agricultural value chain,” he said.
He then defended the bank’s intervention on rice, saying that the rice value chain in Kebbi and other rice-producing states across the country that increased local production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.
The deputy governor said that the bank was also supporting cotton intervention with the inauguration of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers, cultivating 150,000 hectares in 23 states of the federation.
Looking at the present state of affairs, he said the cotton planted by these farmers had started yielding fruits, while some were ready for harvest and off-take.
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