Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele has on Thursday dismissed the possibility of lifting the current import ban placed on maize.
On the same day, Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) disagreed with a directive by Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to Nigeria Customs Service to return imported rice carted away during midnight raids on markets in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Emefiele who reportedly spoke in Katsina during 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 expressed belief that Nigerian youth could leverage their talents, along with technological tools to improve farm productivity and delivery of agricultural produce to markets.
According to a statement, Emefiele said CBN would resist attempts by those who seek to continually import maize into the country, noting that maize farmers in Nigeria had what it takes 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.
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. According to him, groups of youth with contiguous land for farming are eligible to seek the Bank’s support through the CBN prime anchor arrangement.
“The CBN will not only provide access to credit for these youths but will also provide guarantees that their produce will be purchased by a prime anchor at agreed prices,” the Governor assured.
According to him, CBN was leading agricultural revolution because the impact of monetary policy measures would be limited, if the monetary authority in collaboration with the fiscal authorities failed to address some of the structural constraints that limit productivity in key sectors of our economy such as agriculture.
Emefiele disclosed CBN and MAAN sought to increase the target hectarage for 2021 to 500,000 ha from the 2020 target of 250,000 ha, adding that to achieve the target, the Bank sought to introduce the use of contiguous land, high yielding seeds, mechanisation, 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.
Speaking at the event, The Emir of Katsina, AbdulMumin Kabir, bemoaned the security situation in the area and therefore pleaded for serious interventions in order encourage farming activities and sustain the success recorded so far.
Commending the CBN for injecting N50 billion into the Commodity Exchange initiative, the President, Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Bello Abubakar, said MAAN had recorded about 80 per cent loan recovery rate since the association began to participate in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in 2017.
He nevertheless urged farmers to repay their loans to enable others also benefit from the scheme. Speaking in Abuja, Director-General of RIPAN, Andy Ekwelem said members of the association were shocked and disappointed by the Senate Committee directive as it was against the policy of the government to check the importation of smuggled rice.
“This instruction / directives from the Senate to the Nigeria Customs Services portend dire consequences for the Nigerian economy and her people especially current investors, potential investors and Youths.
“It is worrisome that the legislative chamber whose responsibility it is to protect them are the ones unwittingly undoing the efforts.
“Now that smugglers are being protected, encouraged and emboldened, we can be sure that these efforts are in dire risk. No economy can survive under this kind of circumstance