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Buhari Okays CBN’s Agric Initiative, Lists Achievements

Buhari-Osinbajo

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, in his Independence Day broadcast, commended the premium initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)- Anchor Borrowers programme (ABP).

He also took time to enumerate the programme’s successes, which he included in his administration’s achievement.

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Furthermore, the President said a new presidential initiative would soon start with each state of the federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, riding on the back of CBN’s development finance initiatives.

According to him, his government has remained pro-active in its diversification policy, noting that the agricultural programme, which he launched in November 2015, has been an outstanding success.

He said: “N43.92 billion was released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions; 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation benefitting; and 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivating eight commodities, namely rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soya-beans, Poultry, Cassava and Groundnuts, in addition to fish farming.

“These initiatives have been undertaken in close collaboration with the states. I wish to commend the efforts of the Governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa States for their support to the rice and fertilizer revolutions.

“Equally commendable are contributions of the Governors of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau States for their support for the Presidential initiative for palm oil, rubber, cashew, cassava, potatoes and other crops,” he said.

Recounting achievements of the programme, he noted that since December last year, this Administration has produced over 7 million 50Kg bags of fertilizer.

He also said 11 blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tonnes have been reactivated and has consequently saved $150 million in foreign exchange and N60 billion in subsidy, while fertilizer prices have dropped from N13,000 per 50Kg bag to N5,500.

 Meanwhile, CBN ended its weekly foreign exchange (forex) intervention on Friday with $308.5 million sales, making it $503.5 million for the whole week.

The dollar sales, which were in continuation of efforts to sustain liquidity in the foreign exchange market consequently, strengthened the local currency to N363 per dollar at parallel market.

Meanwhile at the Investors and Exporters window, the local strengthened further as it was priced N359.45 in earlier deals, before closing at N360.40, with the official exchange rate closing at N305.75 per dollar.

In a data from the FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, transactions at the investors and exporters window in the week showed a record of $304.1 million daily, an indication of a return of confidence in the forex market.

CBN had earlier in the week, boosted dollar liquidity in the foreign exchange (forex) market by offering a total of $195m to the three segments of the market.

This is coming after the apex bank steadied the country’s reserves’ profile at above $32 billion in more than one week, despite intervening to the tune of $545 million last week.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Isaac Okorafor, who affirmed the development, said the latest intervention in the retail segment was part of the regular auctions of the apex bank, in line with its commitment to sustain liquidity to meet genuine requests in the market.

While warning against speculations in the market, Okorafor said the CBN had put necessary checks in place to guard against the activities of speculators.

He stressed the determination of the bank to continue its forex intervention and encouraged genuine users of foreign exchange to approach their banks, as there are enough forex to meet their demand.

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