The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday said there was a growing need for Nigeria to increase bank credit to the agricultural sector to 10% within the next four years in order to forestall food insecurity crisis in the country.
Emefiele, who charged bankers on the imperative of up-scaling lenders loans to the sector, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the risk of relying on food and drug imports by the country as most countries are currently reluctant to export goods.
While charging banks in the country to upscale their loans to the agricultural sector in view of its socio-economic benefits to the country, the governor said currently loans to the food sector accounted for around 4% of total bank credit to the economy.
Nigeria largely remains a food-import dependent country with an estimated $20 billion annual food import bills.
The fiscal and monetary authorities have over the years adopted policies to make the country self-sufficient in food production but poor implementation of the policies, including the nation’s porous land borders, had limited the nation’s food production and manufacturing capacities and by so doing, truncated the measures.
Only last week, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the apex bank to stop dollar sales for food and fertiliser imports as part of the government’s efforts to halt the rapid depletion of the nation’s foreign reserves.