The decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers Committee, an umbrella body of managing directors of commercial banks in the country, to extend N200 billion facilities to farmers for agriculture produce exportation has received applaud from stakeholders and financial experts.
While disclosing the decision reached at the meeting, Managing Director, United Bank for Africa, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, the committee has been looking for way of assisting Nigerian farmers in the area of exporting their farm produce.
The products that will be targeted according to the committee, includes, Oil Palm, Cocoa, Cashew Nuts, Sesame seeds and Shea Butter. The committee expects the exports of these products which is in abundant across the country to boost our foreign exchange earnings.
The banks said at the end of the meeting in Lagos that they have come up with an immediate, medium and long term plans to address the issues. The facility, according to the banks, will be in a single digit with ten year period.
“Towards the end of last year, the banking community under the supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria had our retreat at the theme of that retreat was how we can transform our economy through export. We set up a sub-committee to look into issues and the members of that sub-committee consist of people who have operated in geographies in our continent where exports have done very well.
“We interrogated this and we worked with different government agencies across the African continent and also we came back home to check what we have and we found out that indeed we have a lot of policies but the challenge has been execution.
“And we narrowed this down to seven broad areas and typically people will say we don’t have money, which is true, finance is one of the major challenges but we also saw logistic as a challenge and also policies. We believe that a lot of polices around exportation need to be changed if we want to really make any headway”, Uzoka said.
Reacting to the development, Cyril Ampka, an Abuja-based economist and financial expert, believed the time for Nigeria to give the agricultural sector a better boost is now considering the call for diversification.
‘The decision is a welcomed development. We have seen our farm produce wasting away while waiting to get approval for importation. The decision of the bankers committee and the CBN will ensure that we, as a country, create more jobs by processing these raw produce before making them available for exportation”, he said.
To Matthew Odetola, MD, Finance Advocate, the move will birth more profitable ventures in the agricultural value chain.
“Over the years, the agricultural sector has not utilised its full potential and i am happy this will bring the potential out and create more jobs along the line”, he said.
Source: Independent Newspaper