The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has assured that the Bank would continue its intervention schemes towards making agriculture the bedrock of genuine economic growth in Nigeria.
Mr. Emefiele made the pledge on Friday April 22, 2016, when he undertook an assessment tour of a rice producing community in Kebbi State under the CBN-initiated Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, in company of the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and the Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu.
The visibly impressed CBN Governor lauded the Kebbi State Governor and the farmers for their determination and commitment, noting that success attained with the pilot project in the State had underscored the fact that local production of rice, wheat and grains remained attainable with provision of essential farm inputs.
He observed that, with a large expanse of arable land, Nigeria should not be spending huge sums in importing food items at the expense of other competing needs. He therefore restated his commitment towards making the agricultural sector a huge base for economic growth in Nigeria.
Continuing, Mr. Emefiele disclosed that the CBN provided each farmer with a grant of N210, 000, only to cultivate a hectare of rice, adding that a total of 78,581 farmers were mobilized in Kebbi state under the Anchor Borrowers Programme. According to him, Kebbi State was already looking forward to harvesting a million metric ton of rice in 2016.
Speaking further on the success of the pilot CBN ABP, the CBN Governor stated that over 500,000 direct jobs had been created and saved with the multiplier effects. In addition, he said there was timely supply of inputs to about 73,001 farmers, even as 70,871 rural farmers now own and operate Bank accounts, which have all been captured under the Bank Verification Number (BVN) biometric project.
Mr. Emefiele expressed satisfaction that the performance of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, in addition to what he saw recently at Sunti Golden Sugar Estate in Niger State, had vindicated the stance of the CBN that, given the appropriate incentive and support, Nigerian farmers can fill whatever gaps exist between the demand and supply of agricultural products such as rice, wheat, cotton and palm produce.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, commended the intervention of the CBN, through the ABP, as well as the commitment of the farmers and Government of Kebbi State.
He noted that the level of activities in the rural areas visited by the team pointed to the fact that, with Kebbi State alone targeting one million tons of rice out of the projected seven million required by the entire country, self-sufficiency in rice production was very much in sight. He further disclosed that 12 States in the country had been identified as rice producing belts and would be made to reinvent agricultural practice into profitable business ventures.
According to the minister, rural areas remained the catalyst for a viable economy development and as such deliberate efforts were being currently directed at opening up the rural areas just like what was witnessed in Kebbi State.
In his remarks, the Kebbi state Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu said that farmers in the state had been adequately mobilized towards the attainment of the one million tons of paddy by providing them with necessary inputs. He also noted that with assurance of availability of market for the produce, farmers in the state were already looking forward to the repayment of the loan facility extended to them at the beginning of the farming season.
Among the rice farms visited were those in Suru, Augie, Bunza and Argungu Local Government Areas of Kebbi State. CBN