CBN vows to reduce food imports

The Central Bank of Nigeria said on Monday that it would institute pro-agricultural policies that would assist in reducing the huge amount spent annually on food imports.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, stated this during the Nigerian Agricultural Finance Conference held in Abuja.

He put the amount currently being spent on food imports at N630billion per annum, stating that with this huge amount, there was a need to put in place adequate policies to stimulate local production.

The apex bank governor lamented the limited flow of credit to the agriculture sector, stating that there was a need to unlock credit to the sector.

Providing statistics on the sector, the governor said the flow of credit to agriculture had been low, ranging from 1.67 per cent in 2010 to 3.72 per cent in 2014.

Similarly, Emefiele stated that budgetary allocations to the sector as a percentage of total federal budgets had been declining steadily from 3.59 per cent in 2010 to 1.77 per cent and 1.47 per cent in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

As a result of the low funding of the sector, he said the apex bank in 2009 took proactive steps to intervene in the sector by providing intervention funds.

He, however, lamented that despite the intervention of the bank, the progress by the sector had not been encouraging.

Emefiele said, “A number of policies, programmes, schemes and institutions have been introduced to drive our agricultural transformation, but progress has been held back by lack of synergy, consistency and continuity in efforts.

“Agricultural credit, though a necessary condition for catalysing the diversification of the Nigerian economy, is not a sufficient condition if it is not complemented by other drivers of growth like infrastructure, research and development, functional extension system and market access, etc.

“I want to assure you that the Central Bank of Nigeria will continue to institute pro-agricultural sector policies to totally reduce our food import bills, create jobs and diversify the economy.”

The CBN governor said the conference, with the theme, ‘Catalysing the diversification of Nigerian economy through effective agricultural finance’, aligned with the present national priority of attaining self-sufficiency in food production, stimulating non-oil exports and diversifying the economic.

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