Analysts yesterday backed the views of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, that the country may record significant strides within the next three years in current efforts to reposition the agricultural sector for greater growth.
Emefiele, had during the recent inauguration of the maiden integrated farm estate established by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) in Daura, Katsina State, expressed optisimism that the combined efforts of the apex bank and the authority in making land and credit available to farmers will further add to the gains so far recorded through the bank’s intervention support in the sector.
The CBN governor, further described the 100 hectare – farm as a milestone achievement which will catalyse the desired agricultural revolution in the state and the country in general.
However, the analysts in separate interviews with THISDAY, said Emefiele hit the nail on the head regarding the immense potential which the agricultural sector possesses to make the diversification programme of the federal government a reality within the shortest period.
The analysts however, pointed out that with more investments in agriculture as well as the ability of the government to subdue insecurity, the sector is set for a major breakthrough.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive, Dignity Finance and Investment Limited, Dr. Chijioke Ekechukwu, told THISDAY that the optimism of the CBN governor was realistic.
He, however, pointed out that the, “only major threat is insecurity which for now does not have a mitigant, except to fight it head on”.
He said once there is the will, there will be a way, adding that, “It will be one out of many other interventions of federal government through the CBN. There has to be optimism and commitment to make it work.”
Also commenting on the prospects for the sector, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Credent Investment Managers Limited, Mr. Ibrahim Shelleng, said agriculture has massive potential of transforming Nigeria’s economy as it currently contributes a significant amount of to GDP and provides employment to a large number of the population.
He also said as much as it was possible to make a breakthrough in agriculture within the near term, the major issues faced in the sector remained financing, poor techniques, inadequate use of technology and lack of storage and processing adding that more recently, insecurity had greatly affected farming.
He however, said attracting private sector funding though key to the development of the sector, “will be increasingly difficult if the insecurity problem is not tackled.”
According to him: “Government alone may not be able to tackle all the limiting factors to agricultural growth. However, they certainly could encourage participation in the sector by addressing some of the challenges faced by stakeholders.”
Shelleng, said to harness more value from agriculture, stakeholders must also look to process raw materials into secondary products in order to increase their export value.
On his part, Managing Director/Chief Executive, SD&D Capital Management Limited, Mr. Idakolo Gbolade, said the intervention of the CBN remained practical and direct adding that the initiatives ought to have been replicated and implemented by state governments.
He said: “We have seen several interventions by the CBN including the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme yielding positive results because of implementation.
“The CBN in intervening in the agricultural value chain has studied the peculiarities of the area and the income generating trajectory of these interventions before embarking on them.
“Whereas most initiative by states and federal government in most cases are for political reasons and spur the moment approach without even considering the tremendous returns it could generate for government.”
He added that most of these initiatives at the state levels are not monitored for performance hence, the reasons why they fail on the long run.
Gbolade, however, advised the government to hands off agriculture and engage critical stakeholders in the private sector with collaboration with government agencies particularly the CBN, NEXIM, NIRSAL among others that can actually take professional and informed decisions to measure and evaluate input and return and maintain standards across board.
He added: “This will enable the country see reasonable development in agriculture as seen in other areas where the PPP initiative is implemented.”
However, the CBN governor had said that the bank will work with the Executive Secretary of the authority, Mr. Paul Ikonne to explore the potential of providing affordable and accessible finance to the beneficiaries under the agricultural scheme to scale up productivity.
He pointed out that the strategic mandate of NALDA aligns with the current developmental priorities of the CBN.
Emefiele also disclosed that that the CBN is positioned to ensure the integration of farmers into the federal government’s Economic Sustainability Plan, which is focused on providing five million homes with electricity using renewable energy.
He explained that under the programme, farmers with good repayment records under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) will be eligible to get solar home systems (SHS) to supply electricity to their homes.
He said the bank will develop a repayment framework that will allow the farmers to use their farm produce to pay for electricity consumed under the scheme.
The CBN governor added that the initiative is expected to improve the standard of living of smallholder farmers across the country and motivate prompt loan repayment, as well as enhance the sustainability of the programme.
Emefiele said the CBN intervention programmes and schemes were introduced with the core objectives of stimulating investments in the real sector, thereby catalysing growth and inclusive development.