Interventions in the agricultural sector under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) are not all about rice production, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has said.
Emefiele said such interventions were expanded to cover over 21 other crops across the country, including maize, wheat, soybeans, cassava, sorghum and cassava.
He was speaking on Tuesday in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, amid allegations that the apex bank’s targeted interventions in the agricultural sector were skewed to favour crops from certain sections of the country.
The CBN governor was in Ekiti state to unveil the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and flag-off of the 2021 wet season input distribution in the South-West geo-political zone under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
“Contrary to views held by some individuals and interest groups, the Bank’s interventions in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) were not only about rice production. It had expanded to over 21 crops evenly spread across the country,” he said.
Describing as unfair criticisms against the Bank’s effort at boosting agriculture in Nigeria, the CBN governor said states in the southern part of the country benefited from disbursements to companies operating in their domains to the tune of more than N300 billion under the programme.
He cited companies and farmers in Lagos, Edo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River as major beneficiaries of the Bank’s interventions in the agricultural schemes.
Emefiele charged interest groups in the various crop value chains in the country’s agricultural sector to continually make consistent and positive strides towards attaining food security.
Attaining self-sufficiency in food production, he noted, would not come cheap, acknowledging the current challenges in attaining food security in Nigeria.
He underscored the strategic importance of synergy among interest groups in the agricultural value chain, adding that this would surely catalyse the growth process, in the sector.
Giving assurance about the CBN’s commitment to effective partnership towards attainment of self-sufficiency in food production in the country, Emefiele said the sustainability of the current efforts in agricultural production could only be guaranteed if youths, who remain the future of the country, were attracted into agriculture
He therefore enjoined Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture, noting that “they have the talent, energy, enthusiasm, technological adoption capacity and all the right drive to revolutionize agricultural production in Nigeria.
“We must meet them half-way to ensure that we provide the enabling environment to make agriculture attractive to the youth,” he noted, adding that “the CBN stands ready to support youths that are willing to engage in agriculture.”
From the inception of the programme till date, the CBN governor disclosed that a total of 3,107,890 farmers were financed for the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT.
Under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, he said the CBN also financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 States.
In 2021, he said the Bank was also planning a minimum one million hectares of rice through a combination of RIFAN farmers and prime/private anchors for each planting season.
While also unveiling aggressive production plans for maize, wheat, soybeans, cassava, sorghum and cassava, Emefiele said the CBN’s backward integration drive with rice millers was also gaining momentum as the Bank intends to finance some millers to grow their own paddy during the current wet season.
The CBN governor restated the Bank’s resolve to partner with the fiscal authorities to ensure the integration of Nigerian farmers into the Government’s Economic Sustainability Programme aimed at providing five million homes with electricity using solar energy.
He also urged famers to repay their loans in order to sustain the Programme, adding that under the programme, every farmer with a good repayment record would be eligible to get a solar home system that would provide electricity to power their essential home appliances.
The CBN, he said, would soon develop a repayment framework that would allow farmers to use their farm produce as repayment for the electricity consumed by the beneficiaries of the scheme.
This, he noted, was even as he expressed hope that the incentives would improve the standard of living of farmers in Nigeria, motivate prompt loan repayment and ultimately enhance the sustainability of the programme.
“Loan repayment is the hallmark of every credit cycle, and the sustainability of the programme is hinged on farmers’ ability and willingness to repay their loans. We are constantly engaging with them (farmers) to enhance their trust in the system,” Emefiele said.
Unveiling what he described as the first ever grain pyramid in the South-West, Emefiele also expressed optimism that the event would generate the required momentum to catalyse rice cultivation in the region and provide a sustainable source of paddy for the numerous rice mills springing up in the South-West and its environs.
Reiterating the huge potential in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, he stressed the need for more private sector investment in the agricultural value chain, noting that significant improvements in domestic production of staple food items, would help in attaining the country’s price stability goals while reducing its dependence on imported food items.
The CBN Governor further revealed that the revamped Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX), which the CBN and its partners recently committed about N50 billion, would commence operation by the fourth quarter of 2021.
“A vibrant commodity exchange will significantly enhance post-harvest handling, guarantee effective pricing for farmers, minimize the adverse effect of middlemen and commodity hoarders and ultimately transfer the gains from primary production to other nodes of the value chain,” he said.
Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari and doubled as the Vice Chairman,National Food Security Council, said the rice pyramids unveiled in Ekiti State underscored the clarion call by the President for Nigeria to “produce what we eat and eat what we produce”.
Commending the Ekiti State Governor for going into the rice revolution, Emefiele said each state in Nigeria has the capacity to produce rice, hence the need for states to compete to develop their respective potential.
Bagudu disclosed that over 50 new rice mills have come on board in Nigeria, signalling that Nigeria was drawing closer to its quest for self-sufficiency in food production.
The recently released data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), indicating a decline in inflation, was indicative of the strong performance of the agricultural sector, which he also noted was responsible for the quick exit of Nigeria from two successive recessions.
Also speaking, the host Governor, Kayode Fayemi said President Buhari’s support for local rice production, through the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), contributed largely to the investments in agriculture, which in turn had contributed to increased rice production and reduction in rice importation.
Ekiti State used as the leader in rice production in the South-West geo-political zone, Fayemi showed, the State was determined to reclaim its pride of place as a leading producer of rice through the empowerment of a new generation of farmers in collaboration with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).
He said his administration was determined to institutionalize commercial agriculture and make it more profitable to the populace, added that Ekiti State was committed to changing the narrative, by reviving agriculture and transforming subsistence farming to commercial production across different crops with the aim of creating job opportunities for farmers and other sectors of the economy.
The Governors of Ondo (Rotimi Akeredolu), Jigawa (Mohammed Badaru Abubakar) and Osun (Adegboyega Oyetola) variously stressed the need for greater attention to be given to agriculture import substitution, even as they commended the CBN Governor for his vision in putting the country first by supporting agriculture.
FGN/PSIN Partner on Strengthening Fiscal Transparency in the States, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN) are to partner on strengthening fiscal transparency and accountability in the States under the FGN/World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results.
The SFTAS National Programme Coordinator, Stephen Okon stated this yesterday in Abuja at a 4-day Pilot Workshop for Curriculum Development on Public Financial Management and Open Government Principles organized by the PSIN in collaboration with the West Africa Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM).
Okon observed that strengthening fiscal transparency and accountability at the States level through the SFTAS Programme for Results would go a long way in ensuring good fiscal governance for the sustainable development of the Nigerian economy.
He explained that the Technical Assistance Component of the programme requires implementing agencies and partners to deliver capacity building to States on the Disbursement Linked Indicators so that they could be supported to achieve results which attracts handsome financial benefits to the successful States.
The NPC further disclosed that beside PSIN, other implementing agencies and partners include Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF), Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP).In his remarks earlier, the Administrator of the Institute, Dr. Abdulganiyu Obatoyinbo explained that under the SFTAS Programme, PSIN was assigned the mandate to provide capacity building to the States in six core areas namely: improved financial reporting and budget reliability; increased openness and citizens’ engagement in the budget process; improved cash management and reduced revenue leakages through implementation of State TSA; strengthened internally generated revenue collection; biometric registration and bank verification number used to reduce payroll fraud and improved procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money.
Obatoyinbo restated the Institute’s resolve to deliver on its mandate so as to enable the programme realize its objectives of engendering efficient and sustainable public financial management system in the country.
The Director General, West Africa Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), Baba Musa who gave a keynote address at the occasion explained that WAIFEM was hired by the SFTAS PCU/PSIN to design curriculum-based, structured face-to-face learning courses on Public Financial Management (PFM) and Open Government Principles (OGP) to ease delivery of capacity building activities to States. Ibrahim Mohammed, Communications Specialist, States Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results, Programme Coordination Unit, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
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