The chief executive officer of the Economic and Business Strategies (EBS), Prof. Magnus Kpakol, has said the numerous agricultural schemes of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) contribute much to the sectoral growth of the sector.

He stated this on the sideline of a quarterly event organised by the Economic and Business Strategies (EBS)/Refined Economic Development (RED) with the theme “The role of Central Bank in agricultural development” in Abuja.

The EBS boss said the intervention of the CBN in the agricultural sector was very good but urged that the implementation be improved upon. He pleaded for more sensitisation on the intervention programmes of the bank so that people would understand them more and see how they could be partners.

He said: “We need partnerships with foreign stakeholders so that we can develop market outside, so that we can add value. What is important is not just to plant products and bring them out, but to be able to process them and add value and export them and gain foreign exchange. I think in that regard, the CBN and other parties will have to try to see how we build partnerships outside especially for the purpose of exporting.”

The guest speaker on the occasion and acting chief of administration, State Enterprises Commission, Accra, Ghana, David Quaye Annang advised the apex bank to always try to stabilize the foreign exchange rate for stability in the sector.

“My advice to the Federal Government especially on the foreign exchange rate and money supply, federal government may not be releasing money all the time, but sometimes, as an instrument of the state in order to get money to manage the levels of the interest rate, government through the instrument of money supply can supply money in the market to do that. It is not always good, it is only in the instance when it becomes so critical and necessary to manage the level of the interest rate. They should look at the system carefully and look at the instrument that will be best to use.

“I would like them to keep the foreign exchange rate stable because if you have an overvalued currency, it encourages imports because imports become cheaper and exports become more expensive but when it floats it encourages export and makes import more expensive especially in the area of agriculture.”

Agreeing with the EBS boss, the Farmers Empowerment Association (FEA) president, Mr. Obaje David, agreed that the CBN’s intervention in agricultural sector was very good but said the implementation had a lot of issues.

The CBN, according to him, is showing a lot of commitment to ensure that farmers get all the support they need from crop production to processing, but said one of the challenges confronting farmers was that the CBN did not have total control on its programmes along the line of implementation.

Obaje stressed that the CBN needed to go beyond releasing the funds to the agencies in charge to also make sure they are being implemented timely.

He explained that while the Anchors Borrowers programme is a good innovation, farmers might not be able to access the funds in a state where the government is not interested in supporting agriculture.

He also blamed the late release of funds to farmers during the planting season on the bureaucratic bottleneck at the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

Obaje said: “For example, the Anchors Borrowers programme has about four legs, the private and the government…the one that has to do with private sector, the CBN is using a mono bank, the Bank of Agriculture (BoA). Their style is not living up to what the youths want.

“You cannot just use a bank where you don’t have ATM, you can’t transfer money while on the farm, you have to go to the bank where you deposited your money in before you can make withdrawal or make transaction; and the condition BoA is setting for the off-takers are too stringent.

“For example, I want to come and buy your products and you are telling me that the person that is buying, who has the same opportunity to buy in open market or anywhere, you are saying that before the farmer would access fund, I, as a buyer must submit my document, my company’s document, collateral, I will give post-dated cheque.

“If I don’t buy from him I can buy from any other person. This is what we farmers are suffering; the off-takers are running away because of the conditions being set by BoA and those conditions are too stringent for the off-takers.”