AKWA IBOM STATE TO BENEFIT FROM 10,000 CBN’S AGRIC SCHEME JOBS

Evelyn-A. Ibanga

Over 10,000 jobs are earmarked for Akwa Ibom State, under the Accelerated Agricultural Scheme initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to enhance Agricultural revolution in the country.

Consequently, the State Government has promised to provide necessary logistics to enable the people key into the programme as well as ensure the success of the scheme in the state.

This was made known when a delegation, led by the Deputy Director, Development Finance Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja, Dr. Frank Amagwu, paid a courtesy visit on the Governor Udom Emmanuel , at Government House, Uyo.

Governor Emmanuel applauded the CBN for initiating lofty programmes and policies for the development of Agriculture and food sufficiency in Nigeria, adding, “We will do everything possible to make sure that our people key into this scheme and also make it quite successful”.

The Governor said that his administration was in total support of every programme rolled out by CBN to complement Agricultural initiatives, noting that with the schemes actively operational and implemented with required guidelines, would impact positively on the economy of the country.

He expressed readiness to be part of any initiative that would put Nigeria on the pedestal of exporting goods to other countries, calling on operators of such schemes to do so with utmost sincerity in order to alleviate food scarcity and achieve the expected outcome.

His words, “When I see something that can actually make us, in the nearest future, to export quality goods to other countries, I am ready to buy into 100%. These people should be coming to us for everything and we should be able to provide for them, human resources, Agricultural materials and others, so I really want to support this scheme”.

While making a case for the state to benefit from the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), an umbrella programme of the CBN’s Agricultural Scheme, the Governor acknowledged that Akwa Ibom was naturally endowed with favourable atmosphere for cultivating wide range of crops all through the year.

He used the occasion to solicit for support in the establishment of the proposed crude coconut refinery in the state, adding that Akwa Ibom deserve the pioneer status as the first state to establish and fully owned a coconut refinery ” in this part of the world”.

Stressing the importance of crude coconut oil, the State Chief Executive said that it is the most sought-after product in the international market, pointing out that the state had embarked on massive planting of coconut trees which would serve as raw materials for the proposed refinery.

“We need a lot of support from the Central Bank. We have the ideas but we don’t have the money, so, if you provide the money and we bring the idea, then we can actually make Nigeria much better. Democracy cannot thrive in a wobbly economy, a stable economy sustains democracy and Akwa Ibom State is interested in building the economy”, Emmanuel stated.

Earlier, the Leader of the delegation, Dr. Amagwu, said that the team was in the state at the instance of the Presidential Committee on Agriculture, to deepen the Anchor Borrowers programme of the federal government with the Accelerated Agricultural Scheme.

Dr. Amagwu explained that the CBN was mandated, through the scheme, to create 500,000 jobs across the country, noting that each state was to benefit a minimum of 10,000 new jobs in the next one year.

He maintained that the ABP was targeted at youths between ages 18 and 35 who are into food crops which the state has comparative advantage, adding that states government are charged with the provision of infrastructure, “especially, land, in a conspicuous location, for this purpose”.

The financial expert disclosed that the CBN has earmarked N1.5bn for each state to kickstart the programme, stressing that the money would only be made available with evidence of, at least, 1,000 farmers at the commencement of the project.

He noted with delight that Akwa Ibom State had indicated interest in several food crops including rice and cassava, expressing optimism that, “with the success recorded in the ABP and this scheme, Nigeria will gradually be ending food importation in no distant future”.

Amagwu mentioned that as the Federal is gearing up to putting a ban on rice importation from next year, it is expedient for CBN to focus on redirecting Nigerians to patronise locally harvested produce and encourage exportation of made in Nigeria products, pledging CBN’s readiness to partner Akwa Ibom State and provide the necessary support.

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