By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As food prices continue to skyrocket across the country, the apex body of farmers in Nigeria, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Friday, hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, over move to empower graduates who studied agriculture with loans to boost food production.
The commendation was made by the President, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim while speaking with Vanguard on the recent media briefing by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, while expressing concern over food production and how to collaborate with universities to bring in agric graduates on board to boost food production with their knowledge and ideas.
Ibrahim said: “It is quite noble if it can be properly implemented. I fully support the CBN Governor and encourage the Universities, Polytechnics, and Agric Colleges to key in from the last year or semester before graduation.
“It is doable as the culture of making the students do practical farm work during the farming season is already in the curriculum.
“Once the certificate is held as collateral the loans will be paid and so the CBN governor is on point with a veritable solution.”
Speaking on a major attraction to young graduates, the AFAN boss said it is important for CBN consider mechanized farming, which farm equipment including tractors, plows, harrows, and others are to be provided for the graduates towards high enrollment and productivity.
“The starting point must include mechanization due to the personnel involved who are definitely not going to welcome hoe and cutlass to farm.
“The CBN has to include the procurement of farm equipment such as tractors, combined harvesters, and others”, he said.
However, speaking on the sustainability of the move by CBN to bring onboard young agric graduates he pointed that, “This system is inherently sustainable because as students graduate others are enrolled so it continues sustainably.”
It will be recalled that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, lamented the gap between theory and practical agriculture, “I am lamenting the gap between theory and practice.
“Why should we have people who graduated from the study of agricultural economy and yet Nigeria has a lot of graduates with agric potentials. We are trying to say that if you are a graduate of agriculture, we will like to work with them to see how they can conduct research on seedlings that will give us the highest output.
“We are determined that if accessing credit is their problem, we will solve that problem insofar as they are committed to paying. We are going to roll out a framework to support the initiative with universities. We will provide a youth entrepreneurship programme in collaboration with universities, whereby we seize their certificate and give them money.”
The apex bank boss also assured that the graduates will be provided with a credit facility, which they would access, and a framework will be mapped out to support the initiative with the universities.
“We are determined that if accessing credit is their problem, we will solve that problem insofar as they are committed to paying. We are going to roll out a framework to support the initiative with universities”, he said.
However, he (Emefiele) said the possible way to make the graduates repay the loan is to keep their certificates that would serve as collateral.
“We will provide a youth entrepreneurship programme in collaboration with universities, whereby we seize their certificate and give them money. Our goal is to develop entrepreneurial skills in our young people”, he pointed.
He maintained that “Our goal is to develop entrepreneurial skills in our young people. For me, it is the most profitable business the youth can do.
“That is why we must bridge the gap between what they study in school and that when they graduate they can practice what they learnt.”
He added by expressing optimism that, “We hope the universities will cooperate with us.”