Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it has far recovered over N400 billion out of about N600 billion it lent to farmers in its Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS).
The banks’s Director, Development Finance Department, CBN, Mr. Philip Yila Yusuf, disclosed this during a virtual seminar organised by the bank for financial journalists at the weekend.
According to him, the intervention was aimed at supporting the federal government’s quest for food security, especially with the border closure and the global lockdown that came with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The CACS is really to fast track food processing across the entire value chain and this has been our successful intervention,” he said.
“We have disbursed over N600 billion and over N400 billion has been paid back. It was given at nine per cent interest rate, but the interest rate has been reduced to five per cent.
“Private sector players and also state governments have accessed it for either rice processing mills, cassava processing mills or to do large scale farming.”
Yusuf harped on the need for the country to be self-sufficient in food production, noting that with the country needed to produce more grains to achieve national food security.
“Bcause of the protectionist mode that a lot of countries are going into, there’s an opportunity for us to properly diversify into agriculture,” he said.
“So, we need to produce more, especially grains. We need to achieve national food security and we need to be able to start looking at how we can even begin to export for us to be able to earn forex, because there’s already a decline in the major forex inflow we get from oil.
“We really need to start looking at how we can ensure we have food self-sufficiency and also begin to export to earn more foreign exchange.
“We have significant land that has been unlocked and so we need also to ensure we are doing a lot of processing in-country.”
Yusuf also spoke on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, saying it has been largely successful.
According to Yusuf, without the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, especially since the pandemic, “I can imagine what would be happening in Nigeria.”
Speaking about other development finance interventions and the funds disbursed so far by the bank, he noted that, “Once the COVID started in China, what the leadership of CBN under Governor Emefiele did was to try and create different scenarios of how we would respond to the pandemic depending on how it affects Nigeria.
“We brought out a broad stimulus package worth about N3.5 trillion across SMEs, manufacturing and healthcare because Governor Emefiele wanted activities to go on despite the lockdown, and then health, because our hospitals have not moved from basic provision of services to more advanced healthcare.
“With N3.5 trillion, the first thing we did was to put in place a N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility for households and SMEs. As I speak to you, we have disbursed N72 billion to over 120, 000 beneficiaries and Governor Emefiele has increased the fund from N50 billion to N100 billion.”
Yusuf added, “We also put in place N100 billion credit support for the healthcare sector. We provided them cheap access at five per cent, through the deposit money bank to access the N100 billion set aside. As we speak, we’ve disbursed over N44 billion to over 40 projects.
“We also looked at helping to domesticate our pharmaceutical and hospice-related activities. We also set aside N1 trillion for our manufacturing sector; that’s where we have huge, significant employment – textile, housing, food and agro-processing, etc. – and during the COVID-19 period, we have disbursed over N200 billion to a wide range of people.”
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services of the CBN, Mr. Edward lamtek Adamu, said the CBN was focused stimulating economic growth.
Adamu said, “I want to reiterate the strong commitment of the CBN towards supporting measures that would bring the nation from our over dependence on imported goods, so that we can create wealth, create jobs for our teaming youths and just improve lives and livelihood of Nigerians as we strive to promote a very stable financial system.
“I want to emphasis what the CBN governor has consistently said, that the central bank is committed to its core mandate of maintaining price and exchange rate stability. We are also committed to ensuring that we have a conducive macroeconomic environment for growth.
“We are committed to fostering development for an efficient credible and reliable credit system. We are committed to a very stable exchange rate and the growth of our reserves and diversifying the economy…
“We are committed to supporting the diversification through our intervention programmes and development finance in the agric sector, manufacturing sector, MSMEs because they are critical to the development of the economy.”