Federal Government, yesterday, said that, as a result of its interventions in agriculture, the food import bill has dropped from $3.40 billion in 2014 to $0.56 billion, representing a drop of over 80 per cent over a period.
Speaking at stakeholders’ sensitisation workshop on the National Agricultural Sample Census in Abuja, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Godwin Emefiele, said that such interventions include, the Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP), Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS), Private Sector-led Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (P-AADS), Maize Aggregation Scheme (MAS), Paddy Aggregation Scheme (PAS) and the Rice Distribution Facility (RDF).
According to him, the bank’s flagship programme in the agricultural sector, the Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP), has become a game changer for financing smallholder farmers, who are at the forefront of the Federal Government’s drive for food security and self-sufficiency.
“As you are all aware, the programme was designed to serve as an economic link between the smallholder farmers and anchors (agro-processors and manufacturers) who provide quality inputs and trainings in best farming practices to ensure high yield” he said.
Emefiele who was represented by Dr Olabinto Adebowale, also noted that ABP has supported about 4 million smallholders cultivating over 4.9 million hectares of 21 agricultural commodities across the country.
“The positive impact of ABP on the agrarian communities is evident for all to see. The programme has led to a significant increase in the incomes of small-holder farmers in these communities and brought hope to the farming population through the timely delivery of agricultural inputs and linkage to guaranteed offtake market-determined prices” he said.
In her opening remarks, the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, revealed that the agricultural sector is one of the most important sectors in Nigeria, representing approximately 24 per cent of the Nigerian economy and engages well over 50 per cent of the workforce, both directly and indirectly.
The sector is not only vital for economic output and employment purposes, but more importantly, it is an essential part of the societal culture. The importance of this sector, more than ever before, has been demonstrated by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, through the heavy investments channelled into it since 2015. The aim of these investments is to increase output in the entire value chain to meet the nation’s demand for food, employment, and export earnings. “It is as a result of government’s heavy investment and attention to this sector that during the recession brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the security challenges being encountered in some parts of the country, the sector consistently recorded positive Gross Domestic Products (GDP) numbers” she explained.
Similarly, the Statistician General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dr Simon Harry, said that the National Agricultural Sample Census (NASC) is designed to produce vital primary data on the structural composition and operations of the sector.
“On completion of the census, the results will also form a statistical framework for the conduct of subsequent agricultural surveys in Nigeria, capturing all aspects, including crop production, livestock, poultry, fishery and forestry” he said.