NIGERIA – The Central Bank of Nigeria has said it would offer single-digit loan to rice farmers in the Niger Delta area to boost their production.

According to a statement signed by the Head, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Patricia Deworitshe, farmers participating in the CBN initiative will also benefit from index insurance.

Punch Nigeria reported that the statement was issued after a second collaborative meeting between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswil Akpabio, and representatives of the CBN in Abuja.

According to the punch, the meeting focused on how to develop the Niger Delta area, using farming as a tool.

Mr Anthony Ifechukwu who was the representative of the CBN Governor at the meeting, noted that the CBN in 2018 identified cassava, rice, oil palm and cocoa farming as those with comparative advantage in the region.

Mr. Ifechukwu added that the Central Bank was also making effort to intervene in livestock and fishery production in the region.

Ifechukwu also assured participating farmers of a guaranteed market price for their produce, explaining that the bank would give a single-digit interest loan for five years.

He advised eligible farmers willing to participate in the scheme to procure quality seedlings from reputable companies and plant their crops in clusters.

Speaking at the meeting, Akpabio, who was represented by Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Adesola Olusade, reiterated the resolve of the ministry to key into the agricultural revolution in partnership with the CBN.

He said the ministry would focus on land acquisition for the project by approaching governors of the nine states in the region to address the issue under the Land Use Act.

Akpabio revealed that discussion on land acquisition would form part of the agenda for the next national council meeting, which would be held in Rivers State.

The minister also spoke on the need for the programme to leverage the capacity of the private sector and the resuscitated National Agricultural Land Development Authority in the area of land preparation for the success of the scheme.

Nigeria has shifted its focus to Agriculture, making it major strategy in the economic diversification programme.

This comes at slumping oil fortunes whose future continues to be bleak amid rising volatility in global oil prices and an increasing shift towards green energy which are all threatening the profitability of the oil industry which has for a long time been the backbone of Nigeria’s economy.