Friday, 23 September 2016

FOOD BASKET: ANAMBRA CAN FEED AFRICA - CBN


By Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that Anambra State has the
 potentials of becoming not only Nigeria’s food basket, but also
 providing food for the African Continental and beyond.
 Consequently, the apex bank charged the state to bring to bear its
 excellent performance in commerce to agriculture to make the dream
 become a reality.

 Stating this in a speech he delivered on behalf of the Director,
 Development Finance Department of the CBN, during the flag-off of
 Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) in Anambra State, the bank’s Branch
 Controller, Awka Branch, Mr. C.M. Sokari, assured the state that the
 ABP would contribute in no small measure to realizing the goal of the
 state becoming a food basket.

 He noted that several intervention programmes have been floated by the
 CBN in collaboration with the Federal Government to diversify the
 nation’s economic base away from crude oil, adding that ABP was
 launched by the apex bank to reposition agriculture in the scheme of
 things in the country.

“To fund the programme, the CBN had set aside N40 billion from the
 N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund for
 farmers at a single-digit rate of nine per cent.

“…Nigeria, as we may all know, is a mjor rice producer with over 20
 key rice producing states in the country most of which cultivate
 during both wet and dry seasons. Rice is one crop in which the country
 has comparative advantage to easily become self-sufficient, given the
 huge potentials that exist.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria has set the ball rolling and shown
 commitment to this programme and, therefore, expects that farmers and
 all relevant stakeholders in Anambra State would reciprocate by
 contributing their very best towards ensuring the successful
 implementation of this laudable programme,” he said.
 Sokari commended Governor Willie Obiano and his team for the laudable
 achievements the state has made and his support for agriculture and
 agricultural developmental programmes, including taking a bold lead in
 the export of vegetable to Europe and other Western countries.

“I, therefore, enjoin us all to embrace this programme and collaborate
 with both the CBN and the state government in ensuring that in the
 next few years our great country Nigeria will no longer be one of the
 world’s highest importers of rice, but a net exporter of the
 commodity,” he said.

 Micro Finance Expert with Rural Finance Institution Building Programme
 (RUFIN), Mr Adamu Ibrahim, in his remarks said the main focus of RUFIN
 was on the people at the bottom of the pyramid, noting that 70 per
 cent of the Nigerian population live in the rural areas and are mostly
 famers.

“The ABP for rice in Anambra is peculiar in the sense that all the
 partners have interest in RUFIN. First of all Anambra State is a RUFIN
 participating state, not only participating, also financially. In
 fact, in all our states only Anambra State is current in payment of
 its counterpart funding,” he said.

 The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanization, Processing and
 Export, Mr Afam Mbanefo, in his speech described the Anambra governor
 as an agro friendly executive, stressing that Governor Obiano had
 supported all the innovations being put in place by his ministry.

 He disclosed that the position of the government was to make sure
 there was a safe playing ground for the farmers in the state to
 participate in the programme, to retain the state brand and heritage,
 which is the Anambra State rice, to engage the youths and empower the
 farmers.

 Mbanefo assured the CBN of the cooperation of the farmers and urged
 the apex bank to extend the ABP to other agriculture sectors.

 2: Anambra State Government has introduced a Community Farm
 Development Programme

 Anambra State Government has introduced a Community Farm Development
 Programme designed to provide farming input, tractor services and link
 farmers to off takers for guaranteed market of their agricultural
 produce.

 Addressing farmers at a forum organized for them at the State
 Agricultural Development Project (ADP) conference hall in Awka, the
 State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanization, Processing and
 Export, Hon. Afam Mbanefo called on the farmers to take agriculture
 very serious and to involve their children and youths in the venture
 because of the immense benefits. He said “some parents discourage
 their children from farming because it is stressful, but today, there
 is money in agriculture”.

Mr. Mbanefo further stated that forum was organized to enable the
 Ministry interact with the farmers and to explain to them the essence
 of the newly introduced community farm development programme, how to
 key in and benefit from it, adding that the programme was for both
 commercial and small scale farmers.

 The Commissioner enjoined the farmers to support the programme by
 dedicating their time, coming together to form and register
 co-operatives and to develop community farms so as to achieve
 government’s objective to make the state one of the highest producers
 of rice, cassava, and maize in the country.

 Also speaking, the Director of Agriculture in the ministry, Mr. Nnamdi
 Agwuncha commended the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano for his
 support to farmers especially for the provision of tractor services,
 high yielding farming input and off take arrangement to avoid glut.

 He called on farmers in the state to form co-operatives in order to
 benefit from the various agricultural programmes of the Ministry which
 includes Fadama III (Additional financing) Value Chain Development
 Programme.

 In his remarks, the Programme Manager of ADP, Mr. Clement Ogubue
 called on the farmers to secure farm lands in various communities to
 enable them produce more for off takers who are readily available to
 buy from the farmers.

 Mr Ogubue further advised the farmers to come to the Ministry to apply
 and collect agricultural lime to reduce soil acidity for their crops
 to yield properly.

 In his vote of thanks, the State Deputy Chairman of All Farmers
 Association Nigeria (AFAN) Dr.Alex Ebogha promised that the farmers
 will work hard to achieve government’s objective for initiating the
 programme.

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