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CBN Adopts Strategies to Mitigate Impending Food Crisis – THISDAY Newspapers

John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has adopted strategies to mitigate impending food crisis occasioned by the crisis in Russia and Ukraine.
The Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this Thursday in Kaduna during the unveiling of the second maize pyramids under the CBN/Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP). 
He said the volume of maize pyramids in Kaduna were intended to serve as stock for the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) to be released immediately to major millers. 
Emefiele, who was represented by the CBN Director, Development Finance Department, Mr. Philip Yila Yusuf, said the apex bank is committed to financing 600,000 hectres as the farming season approaches. 
He said: “Our strategy is hinged on improving productivity by providing more funding for the anchors to enable them to utilize high quality inputs and good agronomic practices to boost output.
“Bringing recent happenings globally into perspective, two of the top 10 exporters of maize (Argentina and Brazil) experienced droughts in 2021, while another two (Ukraine and Russia) are at war. 
“This will certainly impact on maize supply globally and drive prices northwards. 
“Consequently, we have planned a more robust and timely wet season to commence in April 2022 for maize and other key commodities like rice, wheat, cassava, sorghum and soyabeans to mitigate the impending food crisis occasioned by the crisis in Russia and Ukraine.”
Emefiele said prior to the CBN’s initiation of the maize revolution under the ABP growth of maize production in Nigeria, it has been largely due to the increase in hectares of cultivated land and not the yields per hectares.
According to him, “The yield prior to 2016/2017 in Nigeria was as low as 1.8MT/Ha, considered as the lowest among the top 10 maize producers in Africa, behind countries such as Egypt and South Africa where the yields are 7.7 MT/Ha and 5.3MT/Ha, respectively.”
The CBN governor explained further that this low yield resulted in the country’s inability to meet the domestic and industrial maize demand.
He said to address the yield challenge, the apex bank developed a framework for the participation of some seed companies in the 2021 wet season farming under the ABP to produce hybrid seeds that will guarantee high yield for farmers.
Emefiele said further that the CBN is partnering with Flour Mills in Nigeria and technical experts to introduce Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) through practical farm demonstration to farmers and extension workers, aimed at improving the yield of maize per hectare from an average of 2.5 tonnes per hectare to 6 tonnes per hectare.
“It is gratifying to note that the nation’s maize production as at date, is 12.2 million metric tonnes from 10.5 million metric tonnes in 2015 when the Anchor Borrowers’ programme commenced.
“This increased production is taken from the farmers as repayment for the loans and put in a strategic maize reserve. 
“The Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR), which was established in December 2020 as a short-term measure pending the revitalization of the Nigeria Commodity Exchange, is meant to moderate the price of maize in the country through strategic and phased releases to millers and poultry farmers.
“This was in line with the Banks’ mandate of ensuring price stability and sustainable supply of maize to high demand industries,” the CBN governor said. 
He said the CBN remains committed to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy as can be attested to by the numerous development finance interventions deployed to reduce the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and households.
Also speaking, the President of MAAN, Dr. Abubakar Bello, thank the CBN governor for providing the enabling environment for smallholder farmers.
He said the event demonstrated the capacity of MAAN in mobilizing Nigerian farmers to produce “what can sustain us and even export over a period of time”.
He said the official unveiling of the pyramids was a genuine feedback to the present administration’s determination to lift many Nigerians out of extreme poverty and position agriculture as a business.
“There are 21 pyramids each constructed with between 30 – 79 trucks of maize.
“Despite the challenges and bearing in mind that money given for this farming is a loan, the resilient Nigerian maize farmers were able to produce what is being unveiled today,” he said. 
Also in a keynote address, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, who was represented by the North-west Zonal Director of Agriculture, Dr. Timkat Vontav, said the CBN borrowers programme has been able to close the gap between supply of maize grains and its demand by domestic and industrial users. 
He said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) will also continue to support small holder farmers as they have been identified as the engine room for the achievement of sufficient food production in Nigeria.

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