Over 1,059,604 small holder farmers across the 36 states of Nigeria have so far benefited from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers programme.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of the central bank disclosed this while delivering a special convocation lecture of the University of Nigeria, at the Princess Alexandra Hall Nsukka, recently.
Emefiele who was conferred with the institution’s honorary degree of Business Administration also said that the programme supported the creation of over 2.5 million jobs across agricultural value chain.
The CBN boss stated that the Anchor Borrower Programme had helped to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by small holder farmers.
The bank, he said, had improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro -processors and manufacturing firms in the sourcing of raw materials.
Emefiele who’s lecture was titled ‘From Recession to Growth: The Story of Nigeria’s Recovery from the 2016 Economic Recession,’ challenged Nigerians and university communities to make good use of their vast arable land and invest in the aspect of agriculture they have competitive advantage.
He said that the CBN would continue to give access to loans to grow SMEs, while giving a key emphasis on improving rice production, given the considerable weight it had on Nigerian’s import bill.
He stated that the focus on rice has enabled the country to increase production, which had led to net saving of $800 million in food import bill as a result of drastic declines in importation.
He therefore appealed to Nigerians to make use of the opportunities they have to build a sustainable development base for the country.
Emefiele who is an alumnus and member of the class of 1984 of the University of Nigeria said that efforts should be targeted at expanding inwards as the only solution that could help grow the country’s GDP, for it to overtake the population, hence he called on every Nigerian to contribute their quota to rebuild Nigeria.
He said that it was to encourage Nigerians to go into farming that CBN came up with the Anchor Borrowers Programme initiative to enable farmers obtain loans for farming.
Emefiele challenged Nigerians to grow their own fish and eat Nigerian fish instead of importing them, pointing out that Norway has been very good at producing fish because they made it a business to ensure adequate fish.
He expressed the view that if attention was paid to agriculture, not only that it would feed the nation but would bring in more revenue other than oil. “Nigeria is a country of good opportunities. We should not allow it go to waste,” he said.
He called on universities to collaborate to see that agriculture and manufacturing thrived in Nigeria.
Regis Anukwuoji, Enugu