The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed plans to reduce wheat importation by 60 per cent by 2023.
Emefiele spoke in Gombe on Thursday at the launch of the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and the second cycle of the 2020 dry season distribution for the North East region under the CBN-RIFAN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
“The bank is committed to improving local production of wheat and reducing importation by 60 percent over the next two years,” he said.
He said there was no need to panic over the current prices of major staple food items, assuring that the prices will moderate in due course.
In a statement titled ‘Emefiele salutes Nigerian farmers, warns hoarders, smugglers’, he commended the resilience of farmers in Nigeria who continued to farm to ensure food sufficiency in the country, in spite of the challenges of insecurity in some parts of the nation.
He warned hoarders and smugglers of products such as rice to desist from such practices, stating that the bank was working with relevant agencies to ensure the stability of food prices in the country.
Noting that the ABP was launched in 2015, he said the programme had become a game-changer for financing smallholder farmers, and would ultimately help in achieving some of the goals of the Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan.
While noting that the collaborative efforts towards self-sufficiency in food production had turned into a movement, he said the symbolic display of crop pyramids from various fields in the region reinforced the massive potential in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which should encourage more private sector investment in the agricultural value chain.
Emefiele disclosed that the bank had financed 3,038,649 farmers cultivating 3,805,844 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 participating financial institutions in the 36 states of the federation and FCT, from the inception of the scheme till now.
He said the CBN also financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 states under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, adding that the North-East, with 44,870 farmers that cultivated 44,870 hectares, represented 20.26 per cent in total number of farmers and hectares financed, respectively.
The governor warned those seeking to take advantage of scarcity of some products to hike prices to desist from such unpatriotic acts.
To ensure availability of food, he assured that the bank was committed to financing one million hectares of rice farms over the dry season, as it had begun to support cultivation for the second production cycle within the dry season.