Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele says the apex bank has disbursed over N802.930 billion to over three million farmers across the 36 state and Federal Capital Territory.
This, he said, is part of measures to avert the looming food crisis. He said the farmers have cultivated 4.7 million hectares of land under the Anchors Borrowers Program(ABP).
Mr Emefiele, represented by Kingsley Obiora, the bank’s deputy governor in charge of economic policy, said this at the 2021 CBN Executive Seminar in Uyo on Thursday.
He warned that the food scarcity experienced in the country could worsen if steps are not taken in the right direction.
The governor stated that CBN has engaged in numerous developmental projects and initiatives aimed at increasing food production, creating job opportunities and the diversification of the economy.
Part of these included the release of N987.825 billion under its N1 trillion real sector facility to 262 real sector projects on agriculture, manufacturing, mining and servicing sectors, he said.
Mr Emefiele stated that the program has helped farmers improve yields especially maize which was at 1.5-2.0 metric tons per hectare to 5.0 metric tons per hectare while rice had improved from 1.5-2.0 metric tons to 4.0.
He stated that there are 38,140 beneficiaries under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme which has distributed over N708.388 billion to finance over 652 projects.
Over N343.206 billion has also been disbursed to 726,198 beneficiaries under the Targeted Credit Facility established in 2020 to serve as a stimulus package to support households and businesses affected by the global pandemic COVID-19.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reported that at least 9.2 million people faced food crises in Nigeria between March and May 2021, he noted.
He also stated that the United Nations has projected Nigeria’s population around 398 million by 2050 which boast a significant threat to achieving food security.
In his words, “I note with concern several disruptions to the agricultural value chain caused by security challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic.
He enjoined participants at the seminar to find workable solutions to the myriad of challenges besetting food production and security.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, represented by his deputy, Moses Ekpo, said the element of social contract aside from physical security and shelter is food security.
The state’s commissioner for Agriculture and Natural resources, Glory Edet, urged the bank to cooperate with agriculture ministries in various states on its loan scheme as it will help the real farmers gain access to this initiative.