The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has assured that the Bank would support State Governments interested in keying into the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), which the CBN initiated in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He gave the assurance in Anaku, Anambra State recently during an assessment tour of Coscharis rice farms to ascertain the impact of the N2 billion credit granted the farm under the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
Mr. Emefiele, who was in company of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; the host Governor, Chief Willie Obiano and his Kebbi State counterpart, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, disclosed that the CBN was spurred to further intervene in the agricultural sector in order to plug the depletion of the country’s foreign reserves, halt the heavy importation of food and to create a viable alternative for diversifying the nation's economy.
While disclosing that the CBN Committee of Governors (COG) had considered and approved the request by Coscharis to construct a rice mill and an irrigation system, he assured the Anambra State Governor that the Bank was also considering its request for increased intervention funds to farmer in the State.
Mr. Emefiele, who expressed delight at the impact of the CBN intervention fund in Coscharis Farms, emphasized the need for all stakeholders to encourage agriculture, stressing that there was no foreign exchange to import food, when indeed the country could grow enough food to sustain itself.
Continuing, he clarified that the development of the agricultural sector was the core mandate of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, adding that the CBN was there to provide the needed finance to boost development, provide jobs for anchors and guarantee stability in the economy.
Commending the Anambra State Government for supporting Coscharis Farms to achieve the current level of success, Mr. Emefiele assured that the CBN would support any other State Government that showed genuine interest in tapping into the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. He said after the assessment tour, the CBN would be in a better position to advise the Federal Government on the next steps to take as they relate to agricultural development.
“We are on the right path; we need to prepare for the future by keying into agriculture,” the CBN Governor noted.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh commended the CBN for its role in providing credit to the Anambra State Government and Coscharis Farms to enable them grow rice and other crops and move the country towards realizing its objective of self-sufficiency in food production.
Chief Ogbeh expressed confidence that by 2017, Nigeria would have no need to import rice and other products it has the capacity to produce.
“Unless a country feeds herself and feeds well, every other dream is a futility,” the minister enthused.
He therefore urged Nigerians, particularly youths, to tap into the vast opportunities in the agricultural sector, noting that the value chain of rice production provided openings for farmers, anchors, millers and distributors, among others, to make profit from the business.
Equally speaking, the Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu, who is also the Chairman of the National Task Force on Rice and Wheat, described the decision of the Anambra State government to provide infrastructure for the farm as highly commendable.
The Chairman of Coscharis Farms, Dr. Cosmas Maduka, in his remarks, expressed gratitude to the CBN for its intervention. He also thanked Governor Obiano for providing security as well as creating an enabling framework for the farm to thrive.