The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to the promotion of farming and food security in Nigeria. This affirmation was given by President Bola Tinubu while addressing the country in a national broadcast to Nigerians on current economic challenges, titled ‘… After Darkness Comes the Glorious Dawn’. According to the President, to ensure that prices of food items remain affordable, there is multi-stakeholder engagement with various farmers’ associations and operators within the agricultural value chain and that within the short and immediate terms, there would be staple foods that are available and affordable to the people.
“To this end, I have ordered the release of 200,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to moderate prices. We are also providing 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers, seedlings and other inputs to farmers, who are committed to our food security agenda. Our plan to support the cultivation of 500,000 hectares of farmland and all-year-round farming practice remains on course”, he added. Specifically, N200 billion, out of the N500 billion approved by the National Assembly, would be disbursed while N50 billion would be invested each, to cultivate 150,000 hectares of rice and maize, N50 billion each would also be earmarked to cultivate 100,000 hectares of wheat and cassava.
“This expansive agricultural programme will be implemented, targeting small-holder farmers and leveraging large-scale private sector players in the agric business with strong performance record. In this regard, the expertise of development finance institutions, commercial banks, and microfinance banks will be tapped into, to develop a viable and an appropriate transaction structure for all stakeholders. It is in the light of this that I approved Infrastructure Support Fund for the states. This new infrastructure fund will enable states intervene and invest in critical areas and bring relief to many of the pain points as well as revamp our decaying healthcare and educational infrastructure.
“The fund will also bring improvements to rural access roads to ease evacuation of farm produce to markets. With the fund, our states will become more competitive and on a stronger financial footing to deliver economic prosperity to Nigerians”, the President stated further. To strengthen the manufacturing sector, increase its capacity to expand and create good paying jobs, he assured that the government would spend N75 billion, between July 2023 and March 2024. “Our objective is to fund 75 enterprises with great potentials to kick-start a sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity. Each of the 75 manufacturing enterprises would be able to access N1 billion credit at 9% per annum with maximum of 60 months repayment for long term loans and 12 months for working capital.
Tinubu informed that his administration also recognised the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the informal sector as drivers of growth and that to energise this very important sector with N125 billion, and out of the sum, the government would spend N50 billion on conditional grant to one million Nano businesses between now and March 2024, saying the target is to give N50,000 each to 1,300 Nano business owners in each of the 774 local governments across the country such that this programme would further drive financial inclusion by onboarding beneficiaries into the formal banking system. Furthermore, he said that 100,000 Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups would be lifted with N75 billion. “Under this scheme, each enterprise promoter would be able to get between N500,000 to N1million at 9% interest per annum and a repayment period of 36 months”, the President added.