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CBN’s intervention in agriculture, manufacturing saved Nigeria N1.3 trillion in import bills – Official

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says its interventions in agricultural and manufacturing sectors have saved the economy about N1.3 trillion annually in import bills.

The Deputy Governor in charge of the Corporate Services Department of the CBN, Edward Adamu, said the bank’s intervention is targeted at improving local production of four commodities, namely rice, fish, sugar and wheat.

The deputy governor was speaking in Owerri on Tuesday at the opening of the 28th seminar for finance correspondents and business editors on the theme, “Galvanizing development finance and monetary policy for growth.”

Mr Adamu said the CBN intervened in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors through schemes like the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility so as to strengthen the economy.

Specifically, he said the apex bank increased its lending to the two sectors to catalyse growth in critical sectors of the economy and create jobs.

“It is pertinent to note that at the Central Bank of Nigeria, our approach to stimulating economic development is three-pronged, centered on agriculture, micro, small and medium enterprises and infrastructure,” he said.

He agreed the CBN’s interventions transcend its core mandate of maintaining monetary, price and financial system stability. He said the bank undertook the developmental initiatives with a view to spurring economic growth and job creation, which should be the responsibility of the fiscal authorities.

The CBN’s efforts at these development finance initiatives, the official said, have helped to accelerate the federal government’s economic diversification programme.

Diversifying the country’s economic base, he said, presents a more sustainable and stable option to restoring growth in the economy.

He said the intervention initiatives in critical sectors will continue in view of CBN’s conviction that focusing its developmental efforts on sectors with potential for growth, employment and accretion to foreign reserves, would enhance the fortune of the Nigerian economy.

So far, the CBN deputy governor said, development finance interventions have helped to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by smallholder farmers.

 He also improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro-processors and industrial firms in the sourcing of raw materials.

Since the programme began, he said, the CBN has supported more than 1.5 million farmers across all the 36 states of the federation to cultivate about 16 different commodities over 1.4 million hectares of farmland.

The intervention in the rice value chain in Kebbi and other rice-producing states across the country resulted in increased local rice production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.

A similar intervention in cotton production with the flag-off of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers resulted in the cultivation of 150,000 hectares in 23 states of the federation.

Mr Adamu said currently, the cotton planted by these farmers has begun fruiting, while some are ready for harvest and off-take.

He said the programme also supported the creation of over 2.5 million jobs across the agricultural value chain, with the apex bank currently paying additional attention to cassava which has many different uses along the value chain.

The value chain, he said, has enormous potential for employing over two million people in Nigeria.

“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,” he said.

The Secretary-General, National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Issa Aremu, said the intervention of the CBN had helped to revive the textile sector.

Mr Aremu said already, the CBN had facilitated an agreement between all the uniform services agencies in the country and textile manufacturers to enable them produce uniforms for military and paramilitary agencies.

If properly funded, he said the country can generate about 3.5 million jobs in the economy through the textile industry alone.