Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on Wednesday, warned that the food crisis being experienced in the country could worsen if urgent and resilient steps were not taken to address the situation. Emefiele made the assertion while presenting a keynote address at the 2021 CBN Executive Seminar in Uyo.
The CBN governor expressed worry over severe disruptions to the agricultural value chain due to security challenges in the country and the COVID-19 health crisis.
Emefiele, who was represented by CBN’s Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr Kingsley Obiora, recalled that the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had reported that at least 9.2 million people in Nigeria faced food crisis between March and May 2021.
The CBN governor said the fact that the United Nations projected Nigeria’s population to be 398 million by 2050 challenged Nigeria’s common will to implement strategies targeted at achieving food security.
He said the theme of the seminar, “Food Security in Nigeria: Options for Policy,” was apt now that security issues, climate change, and COVID-19 related disruptions were challenging food production and supply, not only in Nigeria but also in the global economy.
Emefiele stated, “I note with concern the severe disruptions to the agricultural value chain caused by the security challenges in the country and the COVID-19 health crisis, as households continue to grapple with the production, processing, and distribution of food with undesirable effects on livelihoods.
“To amplify this concern, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation has reported that at least 9.2 million people in Nigeria faced a food crisis between March and May 2021.
“Due to insecurity and the effects of COVID-19 health crisis, as well as climate change, the figure could increase further if no urgent and resilient actions were implemented.
“Ladies and gentlemen, a glimpse into the future would reveal an imminent food crisis.
“The United Nations has projected Nigeria’s population to be around 398 million people by 2050, far exceeding that of the United States of America. This number challenges our common will to implement strategies targeted at achieving food security and safety, as failure to do so could subject the population to the risks of hunger and diseases.”
He tasked the participants to painstakingly discuss the issues around the theme of the seminar with a view to articulating innovative and workable solutions that would lead to improved productivity and increased food supply for the nation.
Emefiele said the CBN on his watch had engaged in several development initiatives aimed at increasing food production, creating job opportunities, and diversifying the economy, including the release of N987.825 billion under its N 1 trillion Real Sector Facility to 262 real sector projects on agriculture, manufacturing, mining and services sectors.
He said, “The CBN has disbursed over N802.920 billion to 3,038,899 (three million, thirty-eight thousand, eight hundred and ninety-nine) farmers cultivating more than 4.7 million hectares of land across the 36 states and FCT under the Anchors Borrowers Programme (ABP).
“The programme has helped the participating farmers to improve their yields, especially maize, from initial 1.5-2.0 metric tons per hectare, to an average of 5.0 metric tons per hectare, while that of rice improved to 4.0 metric tons per hectare, from 1.5-2.0 metric tons.
“Under the scheme the Bank has disbursed N134.568 billion to about 38,140 beneficiaries. Under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, the Bank has disbursed more than N708.388 billion to finance about 652 projects since inception.
“Under the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), more than N343.206 billion has been disbursed to 726,198 beneficiaries. The scheme was established in 2020, as a stimulus package to support households and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across the country.”
The Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, while declaring the seminar open, praised the CBN administration for selecting the state to host the forum.
Represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, Emmanuel stated, “I love the theme of this seminar. One of the defining elements of the social contract, apart from physical security and shelter, is food security.
“In the past six years, a recurring decimal of most of my speeches has been the need for responsible governments not to shirk or negate this all-important social responsibility.”
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Glory Edet, urged the apex bank to liaise with the agriculture ministries in the states on its loan schemes to farmers so that the real farmers could access such facilities.
Edet said, “I wish to appreciate the developmental initiatives of the CBN, particularly, the interventions in the agricultural sector.
“However, I wish to suggest that CBN, in giving loans to farmers’ groups, associations and cooperatives, should always inform ministry in charge of agriculture in every state on information about the real farmers.”
Okon Bassey in Uyo