By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has vowed to resist maize importation into the country.
Emefiele, who stated this at the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and flag-off of the 2021 Maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria, MAAN, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, in Kastina, yesterday, also urged Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture, assuring that the bank was ready to support them in the sector.
He said the CBN would resist attempts by those who seek to continually import maize into the country, noting that maize farmers in Nigeria had what it took to close the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.
“With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that “we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,” he declared.
Emefiele explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors, adding that this would in turn impact positively on current poultry feed prices, as over 60% of maize produced in the country was used for producing poultry feed.
Justifying the apex bank’s continued strategic intervention in the value chains of focal crops, he said “CBN is leading the revolution, because the impact of our monetary policy measures is limited.”
He disclosed that the bank and MAAN sought to increase the target hectarage for 2021 to 500,000 ha from the 2020 target of 250,000 ha.
The CBN boss added that to achieve the target, the bank sought to introduce the use of contiguous land, high yielding seeds, mechanization, leveraging technology for land mapping and monitoring as well as expanding the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR). So far, he said the Bank had released 100,000 metric tonnes of maize to the market, through the major producers.
Emefiele, therefore, urged all stakeholders to sustain the current efforts to galvanize agricultural production to meet the requirements of Nigeria’s growing population, stressing that the nation could not continue to dwell on the neglect of past years if it was determined to realize the national target of producing what Nigerians eat and eating what is produced in Nigeria.
Youth in agric
He expressed belief that Nigerian youth could leverage their talents, along with technological tools to improve farm productivity and delivery of agricultural produce to markets.
While noting that agriculture offered significant benefits for the youths, Emefiele reiterated that the bank had put in place several measures to improve access to credit for youths interested in agriculture under the Anchor Borrowers Programme and Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, AGSMEIS.
Also speaking on the occasion, Katsina State governor, Bello Masari, said the state had suffered a setback in agriculture as over sixty thousand hectares of farmlands were uncultivated due to insurgency, which hindered farmers from gaining access to their means of livelihood.
Governor of Kebbi State, Sen. Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, reassured farmers, processors and other value chain participants of the support of government towards ensuring that they performed optimally.