The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and governors of the 36 states of the federation on Thursday agreed to pool resources to develop the agricultural potentials in their domains and create jobs.
At a meeting in Abuja attended by the governors, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the collaboration with the governors was a continuation of the apex bank's efforts to enhance the country's agricultural development.
Mr Emefiele said the CBN was focused on boosting the production of identified agricultural commodities in the states, particularly those with high growth enhancement impact, create jobs, improve capacity of industries, and conserve foreign exchange for the country.
The CBN governor said following President Muhammadu Buhari's directives, the bank has identified ten key commodities in the states as key enterprises to be developed along the value chain to achieve the stated objectives.
The commodities include rice, cotton, oil palm, tomato, cassava, poultry, fish, maize, cocoa and livestock and dairy products.
Noting the substantial progress recorded in the past three months, Mr Emefiele said there was the need to interact more with the state governors to sustain the momentum.
"The ultimate objective is to make our states economically viable through enhanced investments by the private sector to create more economic opportunities at the sub-national level, engage our teeming youths in meaningful enterprises, improve internally revenue base for states to meet the developmental expectation of its citizens," he said.
"This is in addition to what we (CBN) are doing through Anchor Borrowers Programme to support small holder farms in our rural communities," he added.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors' Forum, Kayode Fayemi, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues pledged the cooperation of members of the forum with the CBN towards the objectives.
Other state governors, who spoke, also gave their commitment and determination to help develop zero-oil economy with the capacity to create jobs for Nigerians.
Meanwhile, Mr Emefiele used the meeting to highlight some of the achievements of the CBN in the various sub-sectors of the economy.
In the cotton, textile & garment sector, he said through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the CBN commenced the cultivation of 200,000 hectares of hybrid cotton, which was distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 states.
The benefitting states, he added include Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Oyo, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun and Lagos.
Also, he said the bank imported about 6,000 metric tonnes of improved cotton seeds, in addition to about 2,000 metric tonnes sourced locally.
He said the total expected yield at the end of the current season as put at about 302,440 metric tonnes.
With the commencement of the distribution of inputs to cotton farmers in Katsina on May 6 this year, he said the bank's target is to engage about 300,000 farmers to work and help achieve 450,000 MT of cotton in three years.
Mr Emefiele said about 20 ginneries were identified in seven states, including Borno, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Zamfara, to off-take the cotton financed by the bank.
"The ginners are to sell their lint to textile factories with the ultimate objective of producing textiles to meet the needs of the members of the uniformed services," he said.
He confirmed that the CBN has just approved funds to be disbursed through the Bank of industry for the operation of the ginneries.
To expand the scope of its intervention, Mr Emefiele said the CBN met with representatives of the cotton, textile and garment implementation committee comprising governors of Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, and the ministers for Agriculture, Trade and Investment as well as Power.
On the development of livestock, he said the CBN is determined to end the era when the country has been spending about $1.5 billion annually on the importation of dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese and other milk derivatives.
He said a situation where over 95 per cent of milk products consumed in the country was imported was not healthy for the country's economy, considering that the country's dairy industry had huge potentials to create millions of jobs and foreign exchange savings.
The sector, he said, has an undeveloped meat processing infrastructure, declining tannery operations, inadequate large-scale private investments in cold storage and transportation, and insecurity arising mostly from pastoralists/farmers clashes, rustling, and other socio-economic challenges.
He said over 85 per cent of the country's cattle, estimated at over 20 million, are owned and managed by small holder.
He said the CBN has resolved to support subsistent and nomadic herdsmen who who want to be integrated in the scheme.
Under CBN's partnership on livestock development initiative in Niger State, he said about 26 Grazing Reserves haven been chosen in Mariga Locsl Government Area with land area of 31,000 hectares.
He said about 700 families with 300,000 heads of cattle resident have signed on the pilot project, while some companies have already expressed interest to invest in Bobi Grazing Reserve.
They include Friesland Campina WAMCO and Neon Agro, which he added, have agreed to take 10,000 hectares of land each, while Chi Limited and Irish Dairy are to develop 4,000 hectares each.
The Niger State government will retain the remaining 3,000 hectares for its development.
So far, he said FrieslandCampina WAMCO has cleared a land area of 695 hectares, with 190 hectares already planted with pasture.
He said the company has also completed a hydroponic centre and solar-powered borehole, while equipment for its Milk Collection Centre is be installed.
Under the bank's livestock initiative, he said Arla Group, which is currently refurbishing a milk processing plant at Kagarko, has already invested about N12 billion to develop 6,000 hectares of land in Damau Grazing Reserve. When operational, 600 farmers would be supplying it with milk.
Also, he said the Promasidor Group has been granted consent to develop the 500 hectares Ikun Dairy Farm Project in Ekiti State, while Integrated Dairies Limited in Jos, Plateau State is to develop the Wase Grazing Reserve in partnership with the state government.
Nestle Plc is to develop its dairy project in Abaji, near Abuja.