The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the institution’s interventions in the agricultural sector have rescued the Nigerian economy and boosted productivity over the past six years.
He spoke as he inspected the palm plantation at Odighi village in the northeast local government area of Ovia in Edo state over the weekend.
Mr Emefiele was quoted in a statement by the bank as saying that the level of interest in agriculture has increased significantly, with a huge impact on the overall economy.
He wondered what would have happened to Nigerians with the rising cost of food across the world, if the apex bank had not launched its people-oriented policies and programs, under his administration.
The CBN Governor welcomed that the bank has assumed a central role since 2015 following President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration that “we produce what we eat and eat what we produce” by proposing several initiatives aimed at repositioning the sector with a view to creating job opportunities as well as the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In his assessment of the progress of the farm, Mr. Emefiele, impressed with the progress recorded in the production of maize and cassava, expressed his optimism for the start of palm harvests in the next twelve months.
The Governor, while acknowledging the important role played by the Edo State Government, thanked Governor Godwin Obaseki for matching words with deeds in ensuring that arable land was made available to those who are genuinely interested in agriculture.
He also called on other state governors to emulate Edo State which so far has made available about 70 percent of the promised arable land.
Regarding the socio-economic impact of CBN interventions, Mr. Emefiele pointed to the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP), which has revolutionized agricultural practices in the country.
Under PBA, smallholder farmers who previously could not approach commercial banks for loans, now easily receive facilities in the form of inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers and herbicides.
These smallholder farmers can now grow and produce enough for their families and easily sell their produce in repayment of loans, thereby generating jobs, improving living standards and creating wealth simultaneously.
Emefiele also commended the efforts of the promotion company, Agri-Allied Resources and Processing Limited and its parent company, Tolaram Limited, for responding to the CBN’s clarion call to source critical raw materials locally. .
He noted that the company has carefully adopted the principle of backward integration by acquiring about 18,000 hectares of agricultural land for the cultivation of oil palm, cassava and maize which are the essential raw materials used by the group.
In his remarks, Agri-Allaied’s Managing Director of Resources, Mr. Madhukar Khetan, hinted that the company had secured a ten-year N15 billion loan.
He added that the single-digit interest rate loan came with a two-year moratorium and was provided under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) for the project.
The MD said the farm currently has around 1,000 workers.