… As Economist says CBN’s “Naira-4-Dollar” scheme achieving desired results***
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it has expanded about N42 billion to accelerate wheat cultivation in 132,799 hectares across 15 states in the country.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, stated this at the inauguration of 2021/2022 Brown Revolution Field Day/Harvest in Gabarin village, Ringim Local Government Area of Jigawa.
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Emefiele, represented by Hajiya Sa’adatu Ibrahim, the CBN Controller, Dutse Branch, said that the facility was provided during the 2021/2022 dry season activities, to address the challenges in the wheat value chain.
He said that strategy was anchored towards making high-yield seed variety available through the implementation of a local seed multiplication programme and expanding land for wheat cultivation through collaboration with state and federal agencies.
According to him, the apex bank through international collaboration seeks to increase the annual cycle for wheat cultivation during wet season activities and promote Good Agronomic Practices (GAP).
“In Nigeria; wheat remains one of the commodities with the highest demand and despite its high demand, Nigeria produces less than two per cent of its annual wheat consumption needs.
“In the light of the circumstances faced in wheat cultivation in Nigeria, the bank through its flagship Anchor Borrower Programme, in 2020, commenced a strategic approach targeted at facilitating import substitution by promoting self-sufficiency in the wheat value chain,” he said.
This, he said, encouraged improvement in the income of wheat farmers, enabling greater job creation and providing a ready-off take for the millers.
He said the bank also trained over 250 extension workers with a reach of over 120,000 farmers, in a bid to cascade learning to the farmers in their respective locations through the GAP.
According to him, the apex bank in collaboration with the Flour Milling Association of Nigeria, identified, validated and cultivated demonstration farms to holistically showcase the improved protocol for wheat farming in Nigeria and the impact of GAP on high yields to farmers.
“Four seed companies have been commissioned to process 25,000 metric tonnes for the next planting season.
“This strategy seeks to reduce wheat importation by 60 per cent in two years and eliminate wheat importation over the long term,” the CBN governor added.
According to him, the aim is to reduce the gap by at least 15 per cent during the 2021/2022 planting season.
Emefiele said the bank equally disbursed N975.61 billion to over 4.52 million smallholder farmers, cultivating 21 agricultural commodities, among other interventions targeted at addressing the financing needs to enhance the agricultural value chain.
In his remarks, FMAN’s Chairman, Mr John Coumantaros, said that the association was geared towards providing a market for wheat farmers in the country.
Coumantaros, represented by Mr Segun Flade, said the association was expanding its procurement across the wheat-producing states through additional aggregation, staff and warehouses.
“Specifically, we’re establishing procurement centres across 15 northern states to offtake all wheat grain from up to 150,000 farmers under the CBN-ABP scheme.”
He listed the states to include Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, Katsina, Gombe, Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara, Niger and Yobe.
The Chairman said the association would also cultivate 504 demonstration farms in the states, to provide training on GAP to 250,000 farmers under the ABP, while loans would be provided to over 2,000 outgrows farmers in Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Bauchi and Gombe states.
“Expansion of seed production with six certified seed companies, including both dry and wet season seed production to produce sufficient seed for 5,000 outgrow next seasons.
” Research and trials on FMAN’s 10-hectare research farm in Jigawa for testing new seed varieties and improved agronomic practices, including collaboration with Lake Chad Research Institute, among others.
“Part of it is also grant funding for National Agricultural Seed Council to expand their capabilities to test seed quality, certify seed production and train farmers to differentiate high-quality seed from others in the market,” he said.
Some of the farmers, Dauda Ali, Alkasim Aliyu and Muhammad Ado, in their separate remarks, commended the CBN and FMAN for their efforts towards boosting wheat production in the country.
Ali said that the new farming techniques introduced had assisted them to achieve higher yields at harvest.
He also urged the Jigawa government to construct an access road to ease the movement of produce to the markets.
In the same vein, an economist, Prof. Mike Obadan, says the “Naira-4-Dollar’’ scheme introduced by the CBN on March 5, 2021, to attract Foreign Exchange is achieving desired results.
Obadan, a non-Executive Director/Member, Monetary Policy Committee, CBN, said this in Akure while answering questions from participants at a two-day seminar organized by the CBN for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors.
The Naira-4-Dollar scheme took effect on March 8, 2021, with an initial terminal date of May 8, 2021, which has been extended indefinitely.
The scheme was designed to encourage remittance inflows from the diaspora and entails the giving N5 bonus for every one dollar remitted to serve as an incentive for both senders and recipients of money transfers.
It was equally designed to enhance the supply of Foreign Exchange and consequently ease pressure in the Foreign Exchange market.
According to Obadan, the naira-for-dollar policy has been very successful in attracting diaspora remittances.
“During COVID-19, diaspora remittances averaged six million dollars a week, but now it records about 100 million dollars a week.
“The amount of Foreign Exchange coming to the country through remittances has shot up.
“When we look at figures for domiciliary accounts held by commercial banks, the total figures have shot up, so it’s a good policy designed to attract inflow from our own people abroad,’’ Obadan said.
The professor noted that the CBN had implemented various strategies, policies and measures to enhance liquidity in the Foreign Exchange market and ensure the stability of exchange rates.
Some of the strategies and policies, Obadan said, were measures to boost local production, non-oil exports, Foreign Exchange supply and economic diversification.