The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said it is prepared to fund at least 1.6 million farmers across the country in the 2020 wet season as it flagged off the distribution of farm inputs to cotton farmers for the 2020 wet season.
Speaking during the flag off in Kwali Area Council of the FCT, the CBN Director, Development Finance, Mr. Yila Yusuf, said the bank would finance the farmers under the its 10 focal commodities which would cut across their value chains.
Represented by Mr. Ayoola Quadri, the director explained that the step was to create an impact that would guarantee food security in the country.
Yusuf said the apex bank had engaged 256,000 farmers in cotton production for the 2020 planting season through its Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), adding that the beneficiaries were expected to pay back the loan based on the credit terms of the programme.
According to him, the CBN recently reduced the interest rate paid on the loan from nine to five per cent because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yusuf also hinted of plans by the CBN to revive the cotton, textile and garment industry to create jobs and boost the economy of the country, noting that with commitment of the bank in 2018 on cotton production, the textile industry in 2019 was self-sufficient as cotton used during the period was sourced locally.
He explained that: “CBN is trying to bring back the glory of textile of those days whereby the industry used to employ 10 million people across the country.
“In the 80s, we lost that glory because of smuggling where our country was turned to a dumping ground for textile materials. It is an unfortunate situation, about $5bn was spent annually on the importation of textile.”
The President of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Mr. Anibe Achimugu, commended the government and the apex bank for intervening in the sub-sector.
Achimugu, who noted that with the loan facility provided by CBN, the farmers were now witnessing a turn-around in the production output, and urged beneficiaries to pay back the loan to enable others benefit from it.