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Our interventions have improved food security in Nigeria — CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said its development finance initiatives has reduced Nigeria’s dependence on food imports and stemmed the drain on foreign exchange to check imported inflation and stimulate local productivity.

CBN Director, Development Finance Department (DFD), Mr. Yusuf Yila said its various interventions had helped to diversify the base of the economy from oil to boost the sub-national economy.

Yila made this known at the opening of the 2022 Annual Retreat of the department in Abuja.

He said, through the efforts of the apex bank, food security in Nigeria has seen massive improvement in recent years.

“We have traversed the length and breadth of this country empowering farmers through our Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

“We have empowered commercial farmers through our Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Funds, enabled SMEs by extending access to finance using the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).”

Yila also said the central bank had continued to build the case for the use of movable assets as collateral for individuals and small businesses to “unfreeze and unlock finances to enable Nigerians make decent livings”.

Meanwhile some state governors including Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, and his Kebbi State counterpart, Atiku Bagudu, praised the CBN under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for the revolution  witnessed so far in agriculture, especially the ABP programme which had boosted the sub-national economies.

At the retreat, Abubakar, particularly lauded the apex bank for the enormous credit support extended to states resulting in job creation through agriculture.

Abubakar specifically noted that the CBN’s support to states had enabled the governors to “fulfill our campaign promises.”

He said the finance intervention had further helped to boost production capacity with all the attendant benefits to the sub-national entities.

Yila said the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) had remained a potent tool in reducing the impact of the COVID -19 pandemic during the lockdown period.

He said that “TCF became the bedrock of comfort for many households during COVID-19 and Nigerians would surely remember that.”

He said through the DFD, “tertiary education students and graduates are not left out in the cold”, adding that “We initiated the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES) and have seen smiles on faces of old helpless students and graduates who otherwise would have basically joined the labour pool with no hope of meaningful employment years after graduation.

“With TIES, we have confronted this big unemployment problem, and all a student or graduate requires is to have an idea, apply for TIES, and then watch that idea grow and take wings.”

The CBN director also said the central bank had catalysed access to finance for the most excluded business segments of the economic space through the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF). 

He added, “Women are prioritised in the MSMEDF with a dedicated percentage of funds earmarked to enable us close the gender gap in financing. 

“Our financial inclusion drive has been very resonant and consistent over the years, to enable access to finance for all Nigerians and we have even renewed our target to 95 per cent by 2024.”

He explained, “Time would fail me to talk about our interventions in the power sector to ensure Nigerians have electricity, and also in the airline’s segment, providing a buffer to ensure air travel continues seamlessly in Nigeria.

“To ensure that financial institutions lend to the real sector, we implemented the Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement programme to enable liquidity for financing targeted projects for economic expansion and these are yielding fruits.”

Yila also addressed critics who had questioned the apex bank’s intervention efforts, stressing that the results are evident for all to see.

He said, “At this juncture, I pause and ask a rhetorical question. A question that everyone in this audience and beyond these walls should pause and reflect on.  By engaging in development financing, have we solved every problem in Nigeria? Certainly not. But have we made a difference and are we making a difference? Absolutely yes.

“As policymakers and public servants, we are open to criticism as feedback helps us recalibrate our approach to serve the public better.

“Some cite insecurity in the country as evidence that our policies and interventions are not working, but flip this logic and ask, what would have been the situation now if we had not carried out a lot of these interventions?

“The answer is better left to the realms of imagination. Others lay the blame for contagion and food inflation fuelled by global macroeconomic instability at the doors of DFD and CBN by extension. My answer to these skeptics is “you don’t need to study economics, just read or watch the news.”

He said, “Nigeria is part of a global system, and shocks from one facet of this system have a concomitant effect in the other parts. We are not alone because we are not aliens. While this is hardly any comfort over the rising prices of food, had we not intervened, we could have been facing a certain food crisis and severe famine of historical proportions.

“Currently, we have developed an advanced system for linking farmers to input suppliers and providing access to the market for farm products. The entire agricultural value chain has seen a transformation not witnessed before and we are certain the global headwinds, which have distorted outcomes for most economies across the world, will abate.

“Nigeria is on the path of sustainability and food security. The Development Finance Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria is committed to the goal of sustainable economic growth”.

“While we are committed to making today a comfortable day to live in, we are also minded on sustainable development which is defined as “the development which meets the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

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