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Emefiele: Agricultural Sector Saving Grace to Nigeria

Micheal Uche

The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed satisfaction with the level interests in agriculture and tremendous impacts which the sector has recorded in the country in the last six years.

Emefiele while addressing journalists during an inspection tour of the palm plantation at Odighi village in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo state over the weekend wondered that with the rising cost food items across the globe, what would have happened to Nigeria without the foresight to revamp agricultural sector .

The CBN Governor however expressed delight that the Bank has assumed a pivotal role since 2015 upon the pronouncement by President Muhammadu Buhari that “we produce what we eat and eat what we produce” by coming up with several initiatives aimed repositioning the sector with a view to creating employment opportunities as well as growing the the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

On his assessment of the developments in the farm, Mr Emefiele who was visibly elated with the strides being recorded in the production of of maize and cassava already and expressed optimism that in the next twelve months, palm produce harvests would have commenced.

The CBN Governor, while acknowledging the significant role played by Edo state Government, thanked Governor Godwin Obaseki immensely for matching words with action by making sure that arable land is made available to those who are genuinely interested in agriculture. He also appealed to other state Governors to emulate Edo state which has So far, made available about 70 per cent of the promised arable land.

On the socio-economic impact of the CBN interventions, Emefiele singled out the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) among other interventions schemes, which revolutionized agricultural practice whereby small holder farmers who hitherto could not approach commercial banks for loans, are now being granted credit facilities in the forms of inputs like seedlings, fertilizer and herbicides. Those small holder farmers can now cultivate and produce enough for their families and sell produce as loan repayment with ease, thereby generating employment, improve living standards and create wealth simultaneously.

Emefiele also commended the efforts of the promoting company, Agri-Allied Resources and Processing Limited and its parent company, Tolaram Limited for heeding to clarion made by the CBN to source their critical raw materials locally. He noted that the company has painstakingly embraced backward integration principle by acquiring farmland to the tune of 18,000 hectares for cultivation of oil palm, cassava and maize which are the critical raw materials use by the group.

In his remarks during the visit, the Managing Director of Agri-Allaied resources, Mr Madhukar Khetan hinted that the company has so accessed a ten year loan in the sum of Fifteen Billion Naira at single digit interest rate with two year moratorium, under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) for the project. The farm currently has about one thousand worker force.

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