NIRSAL a subsidiary of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said about $623 million is equally spent yearly on catfish, most of which is smuggled, adding that the country has about 71.2 million cultivable hectares of land, with only about 34.2 million hectares currently under cultivation.
NIRSAL said with this, it means the agriculture sector of the economy can employ 65 per cent of the population if government decides to go into full-scale agriculture.
Speaking at the Three-Day Agricultural Value Chain Financing (AgVCF) training Workshop organised for bankers in Kaduna, its Executive Director, Arowosafe Jide, said the training became imperative due to distrust between the farmers and lending banks to finance agric projects.
He said this was part of the reasons for over dependence on importation of what the country could actually produce if all professionals in the agric value chain can be sensitised and made to play their expected roles, especially now that government is shifting it’s attention from oil and gas to agriculture.
Jide said, NIRSAL is building the capacity of bankers with a view to keying into the agricultural agenda of the President Mohammadu Bulgari’s administration.
The report by NIRSAL showed that Nigeria loses about $623 million to dairy importation, $500 million on sugar importation, $4 billion on wheat importation, $2.2billion on cotton importation and $2 billion on rice smuggling annually.
A participant and Regional Director with United Bank for Africa, Mr Danjuma Salihu, said the bank has been agric-friendly, adding that the lender is aware of the risk inherent in agric lending and how to mitigate them, adding that the training has further boosted the knowledge on loan disbursement to farmers within the farming calendar.
A credit analyst with Heritage Bank, Mr. Olukayode Oyebamgbose, said because of the change in government’s direction, many will be going into agric businesses.
“They make us understand that they have been able to train 40, 000 local farmers, both retail and commercial. As bankers, they brought us here to strengthen our relationship with farmers on Financing Agricultural Value Chain,” he said.
The participants said now that the government is serious with diversification of the economy, the CBN must ensure that it monitors all the people that eventually got the money to ensure that the money is not diverted to other uses because of the risk involved.
Source: The Nation