CBN Moves To Curb $580m Annual Cassava By-Product Imports

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Despite being the world’s largest producer of cassava, Nigeria imports over $580 million worth of cassava by-products annually.

To keep this money from leaving Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has offered to extend funds and high yielding cassava stems to farmers.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele made this disclosure yesterday at the inauguration of the Rivers Cassava Processing Company in Oyigbo, Rivers State.

Emefiele stated that by deliberately “reducing our dependence on the oil sector, agriculture and the manufacturing sectors have emerged as key catalysts for reducing unemployment and driving growth in Nigeria”.

The decline in foreign exchange earnings, he lamented, has made it imperative that the country can no longer afford to support continued importation of items that can be produced in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s current situation he added “has also made it imperative for the Central Bank to work towards supporting programmes that will enable greater cultivation and processing of key agricultural commodities in Nigeria”.

He then called on governors of the 36 states to make their states more viable by investing more in agriculture, particularly crops in which they have comparative advantage.

Emefiele identified land development as a major constraint to increase agricultural produce and activities in the Southern parts of the country because of the regions topography.

To this end, he said the CBN has released about N7.436 billion to four states in the Southsouth region to open up more land for cultivation.

The money will also be used to construct access roads to agricultural lands, and provide infrastructure among other support services in the region.

Over 3000 farmers, he said will supply cassava to the company which will in turn guarantee the off-take of their farm produce. The company will produce and process over 45,000 tons of high quality flour for households, industries and bakeries.

“This guaranteed off-take would encourage participating farmers to improve their output per hectare in order to earn additional income. It also provide them with a verifiable platform to access finance from the CBN and other financial institutions through the Anchor Borrowers Programme,” Emefiele said.

The CBN governor said “so far Rivers State has accessed over N13billion from our various intervention programmes and their loan status remains in good standing”.

Speaking at the occasion, the state governor, Nyesome Wike lamented that the rural people of state have not made up to one per cent effective utilisation of the N5billion intervention the CBN made available.

“The CBN gave us loan and we thought that if we call our people in the rural areas to see how we can give them money to come out to the farm, to see how we can give them money to go and trade, to see how we can give them money to go and fish and as I speak to you, we couldn’t get one percent of effective utilization of those funds,” he said.

Going forward, the state government he said “will identify and verify those genuinely interested and registered as cassava producers to this company, government will give them seed money to continue farming cassava”.

To the people of the state, he urged them to “apply to us that you want to farm only cassava, government will give you seed money to go into cassava planting but it will not be like the former one when you took our money and ran away”.

Regarding the loans extended to the state by the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and the CBN, Wike assured that he would repay all the loans before he leaves office.

According to him, “any loan we have taken, the payment will be done by March/April next year we will not owe a dime to any bank before we leave”.

– The Nation

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