By Adedapo Adesanya
As part of efforts to boost agricultural value chain and local production, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has agreed to offer single-digit loans to rice farmers in the Niger Delta region.
Seen as a motive that would crash prices of one of the most consumed food crops in the country, the apex bank would also work with key ministries to provide index insurance for participating farmers in the area.
This was made known in a statement released by the Head, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mrs Patricia Deworitshe.
The decision to offer the single-digit loan was made after a second collaborative meeting between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, and representatives of the CBN in Abuja, which was meant to develop the Niger Delta area.
According to statement by Mrs Deworitshe, the representative of the CBN Governor at the meeting, Mr Anthony Ifechukwu, said that the CBN in 2018 identified cassava, rice, oil palm and cocoa farming as those with comparative advantage in the region, adding that the apex bank was also making effort to intervene in livestock and fishery production in the region.
“Ifechukwu also assured participating farmers of a guaranteed market price for their produce, explaining that the bank would give a single-digit interest loan for five years.
“He advised eligible farmers willing to participate in the scheme to procure quality seedlings from reputable companies and plant their crops in clusters, adding that CBN will do index insurance for participating farmers.”
Meanwhile on the part of the ministry, Mr Akpabio, who was represented by Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Mr Adesola Olusade, said the focus was on land acquisition for the agricultural project, and this would be done in partnership with the governors of the nine states in the region.
He also reiterated the resolve of the ministry to key into the agricultural revolution in partnership with the CBN.
Mr Akpabio stated that discussion on land acquisition would form part of the agenda for the next national council meeting, which would be held in Rivers State.
The minister spoke on the need for the programme to leverage the capacity of the private sector and the resuscitated National Agricultural Land Development Authority in the area of land preparation for the success of the scheme.
With local production boosted through initiatives like this, the Nigerian government since its ban on the importation of rice projects that as more local rice brands enter the market, there will be reduction in the prices of the commodity making it affordable.
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