President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, promised that more focus will be placed on agriculture during his second term in office in order to ensure food sufficiency and create jobs.
In a series of tweets on his verified Twitter account, the President mentioned efforts made during his first term to improve the agricultural sector such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Program established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide soft loans to small scale farmers.
He assured that over the next four years, policies that will aid “cultivation and consumption of locally produced food items” will be introduced and implemented by his administration.
“We are taking our focus on agriculture to the next level. In our first term, we partnered with Morocco to revive abandoned fertilizer blending plants across the country, and also introduced the Anchor Borrowers’ Program to provide cheap credit to small scale farmers,” he tweeted.
“We also developed the food security program that provided capital to large scale food processors to enable them to off-take the grains produced by smallholder farmers. All of these, and more, aimed at addressing the value-chain issues confronting Agriculture in Nigeria.
“Over the next four years we will continue to introduce & implement policies that will support cultivation and consumption of locally produced food items. Nigeria stands to benefit a lot, in terms of jobs, expansion of our rural economy, savings in our foreign reserves, and so on,” Buhari added.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Program (ABP) was launched by the President on November 17, 2015, with a broad objective of creating economic linkage between smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilization of processors.
Other objectives of the program include: increasing banks’ financing to the agricultural sector, reducing agricultural commodity importation & conserving external reserves, creating new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs & employment, deepening the cashless policy & financial inclusion, reducing the level of poverty among smallholder farmers and assisting rural smallholder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production levels.
Also, while hosting All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Eid-el-Kabir lunch at his country home in Daura, Katsina state on Tuesday, Buhari disclosed that he has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country, with the steady improvement in agricultural production, and attainment of full food security.
He said the foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.
“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,” the President directed.