Agricultural sector is Nigeria’s saving grace, says Emefiele

L-R: Dinesh Rathi MD/CEO Lagos Free Zone, Madhukar Ketan - MD/CEO Agro-Allied resources & processing Nig. LTD (Tolaram Group) , Rajesh Gagar - Head Lekki operations Dufil Prima foods plc. CBN Gov Godwin Emefiele Haresh Aswani - MD Africa Tolaram Deepak Singhal - ED Tolaram Vivek Aswani - Business Development executive at Tolaram Osita Nwanisobi, Director Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria during the facility tour of Lagos Free Zone in Lekki, lagos state over the weekend

The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has expressed satisfaction with the current high level of interest in the agricultural sector of Nigeria and the tremendous impact made across various value chains in the sector within the past six years.

Emefiele, while addressing journalists during an inspection tour of the palm plantation at Odighi village in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State, over the weekend, commended President’s Buhari’s foresight to revamp the agricultural sector with the CBN playing a major role. He inferred that, with the rising cost food items across the globe, Nigeria would have been in dire circumstances if proactive measure were not taken.

He, however, expressed delight that the Bank had assumed a pivotal role since 2015 upon the pronouncement by President Muhammadu Buhari that “we produce what we eat and eat what we produce” by coming up with several initiatives aimed at repositioning the sector with a view to creating employment opportunities as well as growing the the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

On his assessment of the developments in the farm, Mr Emefiele, who was visibly elated with the strides being recorded in the production of of maize and cassava, expressed optimism that palm produce harvests would commence in the next 12 months.

The CBN Governor, while acknowledging the significant role played by the Edo State Government, thanked Governor Godwin Obaseki immensely for matching words with action by making available arable land to those who are genuinely interested in agriculture. He also appealed to other State Governors to emulate Edo state which had so far, made available about 70 per cent of the promised arable land.

On the socio-economic impact of the CBN interventions, Emefiele particularly lauded the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), which he noted revolutionized agricultural practice by providing credit facilities, in the forms of inputs like seedlings, fertilizer and herbicides, to small holder farmers who hitherto could not approach commercial banks for loans. “Those small holder farmers can now cultivate and produce enough for their families and sell produce as loan repayment with ease, thereby generating employment, improve living standards and create wealth simultaneously,” he stressed.

Emefiele also commended the efforts of the promoting company, Agri-Allied Resources and Processing Limited and its parent company, Tolaram Limited for heeding clarion call made by the CBN to source their critical raw materials locally. He noted that the company had painstakingly embraced backward integration principle by acquiring farmland to the tune of 18,000 hectares for cultivation of oil palm, cassava and maize which are the critical raw materials use by the group.

In his remarks during the visit, the Managing Director of Agri-Allaied resources, Mr. Madhukar Khetan hinted that the company had so far accessed a ten-year loan for the project in the sum of N15 Billion, at single digit interest rate with a two-year moratorium, under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS). The farm currently has about one thousand persons in its employ.

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