Today is, indeed, a special day for our country in general and for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in particular. This is because the very laudable investments we are here to commission will help to significantly drive economic growth, reduce unemployment and increase social cohesion. While these in themselves are commendable enough, they also help to support the CBN’s determination to increase local production of critical agriculture produce, reduce imports of items we can make here in Nigeria, and thus help save scarce foreign exchange.
I am, therefore, particularly delighted that the Ondo State Government through the Ondo Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA) is implementing appropriate measures to make the State a viable destination for local and foreign investment, a position it once held in times past. I am aware of ongoing investments in the cultivation and processing of palm oil and other food produce throughout the length and breadth of this great state.
These investments, which include this Integrated Poultry Facility by Greenfield Assets Limited, would not have been possible if the State Government had not played an active role in mitigating potential bottlenecks that could have deterred investors. I would, therefore, like to specially commend the government, under the leadership of the Governor, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for being a beacon of hope to many of its citizens. It is due to efforts such as these that Ondo State, without any gainsaying, is well on its way towards being a major food basket in Nigeria.
Let me note at this juncture that this attention to agriculture is by no means a bad strategy. In fact, Agriculture can still be used as a key catalyst for creating jobs, reducing unemployment and driving growth in Nigeria. For example, many of you would recall that in 2003, importation of chicken was banned in Nigeria, with the exception of day old chickens. Yet, this seemingly innocuous policy served as a major fillip for the poultry industry.
Today, some analysts have put the Nigerian poultry industry to be worth about N1.2 trillion, comprising about 165 million birds, which produces over 650,000 metric tonnes of eggs and 290,000 metric tonnes of poultry, making Nigeria the largest producer of eggs in Africa. Despite this huge success in the subsector, statistics from Eurostat, however, highlight that between 2009 and 2011, over three million Metric Tonnes of poultry products were imported into the Republic of Benin, and eventually smuggled into Nigeria. This means that despite the huge domestic production, we are still far behind meeting our local consumption needs for poultry products. It is no wonder that Greenfield Assets Limited and ONDIPA have decided to fill this gap with the investment we are witnessing today.
As the presentation from the technical partners indicate, this integrated poultry facility comprises a pasteurized liquid and powder egg processing facility, 200,000 commercial rearing capacity, 600,000 commercial layers, egg grading and packing centre, a state of the art feed mill, and modern broiler processing operation. I am glad to note that the Ondo state government is working closely with the CBN through the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to support an outgrowers’ programme that will provide the feedstock for this project.
As you may all know, the ABP is designed to support small holder farmers by providing them with the requisite training, tools and funds at single digit interest rates, which will enable improved cultivation of key agricultural items such as maize, soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat. The programme also provides a ready market for farmers by linking them with credible off takers and processors of their produce. Since commencement of the programme in November 2015, the CBN in partnership with state governments and several private sector groups, have disbursed a cumulative sum of N55.526 billion to over 250,000 farmers who cultivated almost 300,000 hectares of farmland for rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soybeans, cassava, etc. Two years into the implementation, the programme has contributed to the creation of an estimated 890,000 direct and 2.6 million indirect jobs. With the commencement of the Greenfield Integrated Poultry Facility, we expect that the implementation of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in the State will be tremendously expanded. This will surely go a long way in providing needed inputs for the facility.
The CBN remains committed to working with the state government in supporting small holder farmers and processors across other items that can be produced in this State. Let me assure the State Governor, and the good people of Ondo State that the Central Bank of Nigeria stands ready to collaborate with you in supporting the development of a viable agricultural sector in this state. And this readiness is directly in harmony with our resolve and vision to create a professional and people-centred Central Bank that will act as a financial catalyst for job creation and inclusive economic growth.
Let me end this remarks by once again appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari for believing in Nigerian farmers at a time when many others did not give them a chance. My appreciation also goes to His Excellency, the Governor of Ondo State for providing the enabling environment towards attracting increased investment in the State, a drive that has made it possible to visit the state for such an investment. I also want to commend the Management of Greenfield Assets Limited for the commitments and dedication towards ensuring the timely actualisation of the project.
– Being Address by Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank at the ground-breaking ceremony of Greenfield Integrated Poultry and Powderized Egg Facility