By Usman Musa
As part of its role to support the development of the nation’s economy, particularly the non-oil sector like agriculture, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rolled out several agriculture initiatives in order to boost agriculture and ensure food security in the country. The programmes, which have gulped billons of naira over the years, are being implemented in the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In Jigawa state, for instance, the CBN Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, said at the inauguration of the 2021/2022 Brown Revolution Field Day/Harvest in Gabarin village, Ringim Local Government Area of Jigawa state, that it has spent about N42 billion to accelerate wheat cultivation on 132,799 hectares across 15 states in the country.
Emefiele, represented by Hajiya Sa’adatu Ibrahim, the CBN Controller, Dutse branch, said in March, this year, that the facility was provided during the 2021/2022 dry season activities, to address the challenges in the wheat value chain.
He said that the strategy was anchored on making high yield seed variety available through implementation of a local seed multiplication programme, and expanding land for wheat cultivation through collaboration with state and federal agencies.
According to him, the apex bank through international collaboration seeks to increase the annual cycle for wheat cultivation during wet season activities and promote Good Agronomic Practices (GAP).
“In Nigeria wheat remains one of the commodities with the highest demand and despite its high demand, Nigeria produces less than two per cent of its annual wheat consumption needs.
“In the light of the circumstances faced in wheat cultivation in Nigeria, the bank through its flagship Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, in 2020, commenced a strategic approach targeted at facilitating import substitution by promoting self-sufficiency in the wheat value chain,” he said.
This, he said, encouraged improvement in the income of wheat farmers, enabling greater job creation and providing a ready off take for the millers.
He said the bank also trained over 250 extension workers with a reach of over 120,000 farmers, in a bid to cascade learning to the farmers in their respective locations through the GAP.
According to him, the apex bank in collaboration with Flour Milling Association of Nigeria, identified, validated and cultivated demonstration farms to holistically showcase the improved protocol for wheat farming in Nigeria and the impact of GAP on high yields to farmers.
“Four seed companies have been commissioned to process 25,000 metric tonnes for the next planting season.
“This strategy seeks to reduce wheat importation by 60 per cent in two years and eliminate wheat importation over the long term,” the CBN governor added.
Instructively, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) is a development finance initiative aimed at supporting economic diversification, enhance job creation and help preserve foreign exchange.
It is worthy of note that the CBN through its Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) as well as the ABP has continued to support genuine local rice manufacturers, in line with its development finance function.
The ABP was designed to assist small scale farmers to increase the production and supply of feedstock to agro-processors.
President Muhammadu Buhari said recently that some states like Jigawa, Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Ebonyi and Kano have taken advantage of the federal government’s policy on agriculture with huge returns in rice farming.
He, therefore, urged more states to embrace the ongoing revolution in agriculture to feed the nation. “We have achieved food security, and for physical security we are not doing badly,’’ he said.
The ABP is an initiative of the CBN aimed at creating an ecosystem to link out-growers (small holder farmers) to local processors, increase banks’ financing to the agricultural sector enhance capacity utilisation of agricultural firms involved in the production of identified commodities and as well as the productivity and incomes of farmers.
Reports indicate that the scheme has reduced the level of poverty among small holder farmers and improved job creation, while assisting rural small-holder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production levels.
The programme was hinged on three pronged approach, namely, the out-grower support programme; training of farmers, extension workers and banks; and risk mitigation.
Earlier this year, while appraising the economic diversification actions of the CBN, Dr Emefiele said the programme has enabled agro-processors and manufacturers to source their inputs from local sources, rather than relying on the importation of these items in the face of pressures on the nation’s foreign exchange resources.
Consequently, the apex bank has rolled out a new policy to end reliance of the nation’s dairy industry on foreign inputs, just as it assured that the apex bank was ready to provide loans for those who want to go into cattle business.
It is pertinent to state that prior to the ABS, the apex bank had several agricultural intervention programmes across the country including Jigawa state. They include the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), which was established by Decree No. 20 of 1977, and started operations in April, 1978; the Agricultural Credit Support Scheme (ACSS), with a prescribed fund of N50.0 billion to enable farmers exploit the untapped potentials of Nigeria’s agricultural sector, reduce inflation, lower the cost of agricultural production (i. e. food items), generate surplus for export, increase Nigeria’s foreign earnings as well as diversify its revenue base.
There is also the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) established in 2009 to provide finance for the country’s agricultural value chain (production, processing, storage and marketing). Increased production arising from the intervention would moderate inflationary pressures and assist the bank to achieve its goal of price stability in the country.
Indeed, the CBN’s agricultural intervention programmes across the 36 states of the federation including the FCT are quite laudable. This assertion is given credence by the accolades and encomiums showered on the Emefiele-led CBN by the beneficiaries of the schemes, particularly in Jigawa state.
National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, commended CBN for its bold initiatives in the agriculture sector. He noted that there has been a remarkable improvement in flow of lending to agriculture over what was obtainable in the past.
While the CBN’s agriculture initiatives are highly commendable, it is necessary that the beneficiaries of these revolutionary schemes, particularly in Jigawa state, utilise them in order to achieve their ultimate objective of attaining food security in the country. It is advisable that those who are yet to key into these programmes, particularly in Jigawa state, do so with utmost urgency.
Usman writes from Dutse, Jigawa state
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily