By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Federal Government now saves over N1.3 trillion on importation of rice, fish, sugar and wheat annually since the introduction of the Anchors Borrower’s Program by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Mr Edward Lametek Adamu has disclosed.
Speaking at the 28th CBN Seminar for Finance Correspondents & Business Editors in Owerri on Tuesday, the Deputy Governor said “Our targeted focus on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors was driven by the vast opportunities for growth in these sectors given our high population”.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) which was launched in November 2015, was designed to build partnerships between small holder farmers and reliable large-scale agro-processors, with a view to increasing agricultural output, while improving access to credit for farmers.
In a keynote address at the seminar with the the theme, “Galvanizing Development Finance & Monetary Policy for Growth”, Adamu said the introduction of the Anchor Borrower’s Program has started yielding positive results on the economy.”Our targeted focus on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors was driven by the vast opportunities for growth in these sectors given our high population”.
He disclosed that 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.
The Deputy Governor who was represented by the Director of Corporate Communication, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, said, “our recent experience with recession attests to the value of effective implementation of monetary policy.
“Though we adopted unconventional or heterodox monetary policies, they were however, well thought through and have been yielding significant gains for the Nigerian economy. Noticeably, the GDP recovery in the third quarter of 2017, which has been sustained for 9 successive quarters after 5 consecutive quarters of negative growth.
“This unconventional monetary policy initiatives have been premised on ensuring credit delivery to critical sectors of the economy. This has informed the directive to Deposit Money Banks to maintain a minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 65% by the end of December 2019. The Bank is also creating the necessary eco-system to inculcate a better credit culture among Nigerians.
“In all, there is sufficient evidence of significant reductions in our annual imports bill, and increased non-oil exports. Our Development Finance interventions has helped to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by small holder 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 1.5m 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.
“Noticeable as these gains are, the media also has a critical role to play in conveying a deeper understanding of the Bank’s commitment to economic growth and development”
He said, for instance, the intervention in the rice value chain in Kebbi and other rice-producing states across the country that increased local rice production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017 as well as cotton intervention with the flag-off of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers, cultivating 150,000 hectares in 23 States of the Federation.
According to him, presently, the cotton planted by these farmers has begun fruiting, while some are ready for harvest and off-take.
“We are currently also paying additional attention to cassava because the commodity has many different uses along the value chain. The value chain has enormous potential for employing over 2 million people in Nigeria.
“It is my belief that this seminar will facilitate robust interaction, leading to a deeper understanding of the theme for in-depth discussions. We hope that this seminar enriches your knowledge and that you become advocates of our interventions in enlightening the public and other stakeholders”, he added.