The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has reiterated the apex bank’s commitment to provide more loans to the youth.
The bank chief urged youths to embrace agriculture, declaring the bank’s readiness to support them that are willing to engage in agriculture. The governor reiterated the bank’s opposition to the importation of maize.
Emefiele made the declaration in Katsina, during the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and kick-off of the maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
He expressed belief that youths could leverage their talents, along with technological tools to improve farm productivity and delivery of agricultural produce to markets.
Noting that agriculture offered significant benefits for the youth, Emefiele reiterated that the bank had put in place several measures to improve access to credit for youths interested in Agriculture under the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the AgriBusiness Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).
“The CBN will not only provide access to credit for these youths but will also provide guarantees that their produce will be purchased by a prime anchor at agreed prices,” the Governor assured.
Meanwhile, Emefiele said the CBN would resist attempts by those who seek to continually import maize into the country, noting that maize farmers in Nigeria had what it takes to close the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.
“With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that “we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,’” he declared.
Emefiele explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors, adding that this would in turn impact positively on poultry feed prices, as over 60 per cent of maize produced in the country are used for producing poultry feed.
Justifying the bank’s continued strategic intervention in the value chains of focal crops, he said the CBN was leading the revolution, because the impact of our monetary policy measures would be limited, if the monetary authority in collaboration with the fiscal authorities failed to address some of the structural constraints that limit productivity in key sectors of our economy such as agriculture. Specifically, he said the bank’s intervention was in line with its mandate and aims at ensuring price stability as well as improved availability of staple food items.
He disclosed that the bank and MAAN sought to increase the target hectarage for the year to 500,000 ha from the 2020 target of 250,000 ha, adding that to achieve the target, the bank sought to introduce the use of contiguous land, high yielding seeds, mechanisation, leveraging technology for land mapping and monitoring as well as expanding the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR). So far, he said the bank had released 100,000 metric tonnes of maize to the market, through the major producers.
Emefiele, therefore, urged stakeholders to sustain the efforts to galvanise agricultural production to meet the requirements of Nigeria’s growing population, stressing that the nation could not continue to dwell on the neglect of past years if it was determined to realise the national target of producing what Nigerians eat and eating what is produced in Nigeria.
Also, the Katsina State Governor, Rt. Hon. Bello Masari, said the state had suffered a setback in agriculture as over 60,000 hectares of farmlands were uncultivated due to insurgency, which hindered farmers from gaining access to their means of livelihood.