CBN's N4.9 bln loans to rice farmers created 570,000 jobs

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has observed that the current scarcity of foreign exchange, forex, confronting the country is proving to be bringing out the best in Nigerians as the local production of various essential goods are now being given priority.

Emefiele, who stated this at the weekend during a tour of the farmlands cultivated under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Kebbi State, stated that the commitment of stakeholders and the expected output from Kebbi State alone had proved critics of the apex bank’s policy measures wrong.

A statement from the CBN reports that Emefiele was full of praise for the farmers and the Kebbi State Government for their determination and commitment as he stated that with the level of success attained under the pilot project in the state, in addition to what he saw at the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate in Niger State recently, it was becoming more of a reality that the country can produce enough food to feed itself and even export in no distant future.

The CBN Governor was of the view that with agriculture being the bedrock of genuine economic growth of any nation, Nigeria could not be an exception, stressing that “Nigeria with large expanse of arable land ought not to be spending huge amounts of money importing food items at the expense of other competing needs.”

He stated that the success recorded by the rice farmers in Kebbi State has rekindled hope in the ability of Nigeria to be self sufficient in rice and wheat production, adding that with the sum of N210,000 granted to each farmer, they were able to cultivate a hectare of rice.

He disclosed that 78,581 farmers were mobilised in the state under the Anchor Borrowers Programme. The farmers are already looking forward to a total of one million metric tonnes of rice this year, he added.

Speaking further on what the programme has been able to achieve, Emefiele stated that with the disbursement of N4.9 billion as loans to the farmers, over 570,000 direct jobs had been created with the multiplier effect that, 70,871 rural farmers now own and operate bank accounts and are captured under the Bank Verification Number (BVN) biometric project, adding that the timely supply of inputs to 73,001 farmers was achieved.

He maintained that the performance of the programme also vindicated CBN’s stance that with the right incentives and the necessary support, Nigerian farmers would be able to fill whatever gaps that exist between the demand and supply of agricultural products like rice, wheat, cotton and palm produce.

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