The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that not less than N1.3 trillion was spent by the Federal Government on the importation of rice, fish, sugar and wheat in the last 12 months.

The Nation reported that the disclosure came from the bank’s Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Edward Lametek while speaking at a seminar organized for Finance reporters in Owerri, Imo State.

Lametek made known that it was pertinent for the country to push local production of commodities because it puts a lot of pressure on the country’s import bill. He said that economic diversification remained a sustainable way to grow the economy which is why the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) was launched in November 2015.

FG spent N1.3 trillion on rice, wheat importation in 12 months – CBN 

Lametek explained that the purpose of the ABP was to build partnerships between smallholder farmers and reliable large-scale agro-processors, with a view to increasing agricultural output while improving access to credit for farmers.

According to him, the CBN was focused on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors as there were opportunities for growth in these sectors given the country’s high population.

[READ MORE: CBN and other industry stakeholders establish N1 billion Bankers’ Charitable Endowment Fund]

Lametek said making efforts to develop finance initiatives had helped to accelerate the attainment of government’s economic diversification programme, adding that diversifying the economic base presents a more sustainable and stable option.

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“Given the foregoing, it is our conviction that focusing our developmental efforts on sectors with inherent potential for growth, employment and accretion to foreign reserves, would enhance the fortune of the Nigerian economy.

 “The CBN increased its lending to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, through targeted intervention schemes such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility,” he said.

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Achievements garnered so far: The Deputy Governor stated that the bank’s development finance interventions had done a great deal in supporting farmers across the country.

Lametek’s words: “Our development finance interventions have helped to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by smallholder farmers. We have also improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro-processors and industrial firms in the sourcing of raw materials. 

“So far, the programme has supported more than 1.5 million farmers across all the 36 states of Nigeria, in cultivating 16 different commodities over 1.4 million hectares of farmland. It has also supported the creation of over 2.5m jobs across the agricultural value chain.”

What you should know: As stated by Lamatek, the CBN intervention in the rice value chain in Kebbi and other rice-producing states has raised local rice production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to a total of 5.8 million tonnes in 2017. Also, the cotton intervention, with the flag-off of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers, encouraged them to cultivate 150,000 hectares in 23 states.

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