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Development finance interventions to bolster agricultural production, says Emefiele

By Anthony Otaru, Abuja
04 December 2019   |   4:13 am
The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) development finance interventions are said to have bolstered agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by smallholder farmers despite criticisms from some quarters...

CBN Governor Emefiele. Photo: FINANCIALTECHNOLOGYAFRICA

• NLC leadership backs border closure
The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) development finance interventions are said to have bolstered agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by smallholder farmers despite criticisms from some quarters, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele has said.

The Governor said the various interventions have also improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro-processors and industrial firms in the sourcing of raw materials.

He said, “So far, the programme has supported more than 1.5 million farmers across all the 36 states of Nigeria, in cultivating 16 different commodities over 1.4 million hectares of farmland, it has also supported the creation of over 2.5m jobs across the agricultural value chain.’’

Emefiele stated this yesterday, in his keynote to the 28th Seminar for journalists in Owerri, Imo State.

The Theme of the Seminar is, “Galvanizing Development Finance and Monetary Policy for Growth.’’

Emefiele, represented by the CBN Deputy Governor, Corporate Affairs, Edward Lametek Adamu, revealed that noticeable as these gains may be, the media also has a critical role to play in conveying a deeper understanding of the Bank’s commitment to economic growth and development..

He said: “It is our game changing intervention in the rice value chain in Kebbi and other rice-producing states across the country that increased local rice production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017, as well as cotton intervention with the flag-off of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers, cultivating 150,000 hectares in 23 states of the Federation, currently, the cotton planted by these farmers has begun fruiting, while some are ready for harvest and off-take.’’

He explained that the apex bank is also paying additional attention to cassava because the commodity has many different uses along the value chain, stressing, “The value chain has enormous potential for employing over 2 million people in Nigeria.”

He noted that the unconventional monetary policy initiatives have been premised on ensuring credit delivery to critical sectors of the economy, which has equally informed the directive to Deposit Money Banks to maintain a minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 65% by the end of December 2019. The Bank is also creating the necessary eco-system to inculcate a better credit culture among Nigerians.

The General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTN), Comrade Isah Aremu, in his remarks, assured that the Union is seriously standing by the CBN on the closure of the nation’s borders to boost local production and consumption.

“The border closure is a fair trade deal for Nigeria; we have been experiencing unfriendly trading with our neighbours over the years, which has failed severally to help us as a nation because our country was turned into a dumping ground.”

He stated that the border closure policy introduced by the CBN can guarantee jobs for Nigerians, “For the first time, we have a comrade, activist in CBN, we are on the same page to make Nigerians to produce what they consume and consume what they produce.’’

He used the occasion to commend the federal government for increasing the minimum wage of the ordinary worker to N30,000 per month, stressing that the step will further increase the workers purchasing power, raise local demand from the industries and encourage local production.

Earlier in a welcome address, the Branch Controller of the CBN, Owerri Branch, Gorgina Nwankwo, said there is a need for the CBN to continue to train FICAN members to update them with financial knowledge to further enrich their horizon. This will help them to properly educate the general public on issues relating to financial interventions, and the CBN monetary policies from time to time.