Plans 10% Annual Import Bill Reduction Of Food Items
Almost one year the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released a list of 40 items for which importers were not allowed to import with foreign exchange accessed through its official window, it had to check the nations exceptionally high import bill, rising inflation caused mainly by imported food items and rising unemployment across the land.
Speaking recently at the formal flag off of the rice dry season farming in Jibia, Katsina State, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the CBN lamented a situation where rice and wheat formed part of four items that consumed a significant N1.0 trillion in foreign exchange, a food import bill, he lamented was exceptionally high.
This is why, he said, the apex bank as part of its developmental efforts initiated the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to complement other agricultural programmes in the country.
The Governor said continued import of food that can otherwise be produced domestically, displaces local farmer and created unemployment, adding that import dependency, especially on commodities of comparative advantage was neither acceptable nor sustainable.
Emefiele, who was represented at the event by the Director, Development Finance Department (DFD), Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, listed other challenges as the non-utilization of available cultivable lands; manual system of production and inadequate funding for the establishment and development of nucleus farms and small farmers out-grower schemes.
The governor assured that with the ABP, the CBN plans by 2021 to raise the ratio of agricultural lending from 3.72% of total bank lending in 2014 to 7.0%; and capacity utilisation from the current less than 50% to about 80%; while empowering no less than 600,000 farmers in the rice, oil palm, wheat, cotton and fish value chains. Others are sorghum, maize, millet, tomatoes etc.
Other ABP targets set for 2021 include creation of at least one million direct and indirect jobs in the agric processing segment of the identified value chains; reducing Nigeria’s import bill on the identified commodities by at least 10% annually.
Emefiele recalled a report by the Global Economic Symposium (GES) suggesting a steady rise in prices of rice in the past seven or eight years showing that Nigeria has been consuming more rice than it had been producing.
Also speaking at the event, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State described the ABP as a change initiative, following which he unveiled plans by his administration to help farmers, including the N8 billion set aside in this year’s budget, with over 20,000 farmers in the state are expected to participate.
This, he said, is besides a budgetary allocation of N300 million for rehabilitation and expansion of 10 dams, as well as establishment of a rice resource centre and a reservoir in Daudawa and Dandume towns respectively.