The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it is working to fast-track the domestic production of milk and boost palm oil production in the country.
The apex bank also condemned claims by critics that the bank assisted agricultural intervention programmes, especially the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), were targeted to favour some regions and sections of the country.
CBN stated that the criticism was unfair given what it had done in some states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It further listed Lagos, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Edo and Ekiti States among beneficiaries of the disbursements for various agricultural projects.
Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele made this known in his remarks during the unveiling of Ekiti State rice pyramid project and launch of the 2021 wet season rice cultivation in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday.
Emefiele explained that from about N700 billion that had been disbursed through its various agricultural programmes, Southern Nigeria had received over N300 billion either through its ABP, states or companies-based projects.
The CBN Governor, speaking on the bank’s exploits in Edo state, noted that two companies, Okomu Oil and Presco, involved in oil palm production had received about N20 billion to boost their businesses while Greenfield, another firm involved in the production of ethanol was granted N7 million to uplift its activities.
He added that the bank will set up an anchor borrowers programme for cassava farmers that will feed the ethanol plant in the state.
In his words “In South-South where I come from, and where I have been personally criticised, in Edo State where Governor Obaseki comes from, we have disbursed over N10 billion. Some of you may have seen some of our programmes in Edo State in 2019 where we asked Edo State to allocate land to companies that are interested in palm plantation as well as in cassava
“If you go to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, you will find that the profitability and dividends payout of Presco and Okomu, are unassailable among other companies involved in producing palm and palm oil in Nigeria.
“And it is the reason why we decided that because we believe we can produce crude palm oil in Nigeria, we placed palm oil on our FX restriction and today, people are making money producing and selling palm oil as well as refining” Emefiele added.
CBN Governor also pointed that the bank was ready to support cocoa production in Nigeria, noting that the pyramids movement, particularly rice, served to demonstrate that rice production was viable in all states
Apex bank boss, however, underscored that Nigeria was still a far cry away from achieving the desired objective of self-sufficiency, adding that the growth process so far reaffirms the belief in the potential inherent in the agricultural sector.
Emefiele ,therefore, called for steady and consistent progress through positive strides in the right direction.
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