LAGOS – Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have expressed their delight as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently got an approval from the Federal Government to inject N50 billion into the exchange to mop up produce from farmers and aggregators, and sell through an application, in the format of the normal stock exchange.
In the plan, the CBN as the majority shareholder will inject N50 billion to bring the exchange best global standard to play its role.
Stakeholders, who spoke in separate interviews with Daily Independent, commended the CBN on the initiative stating that it is a right step in the right direction, that it would boost production and also reduce post-harvest losses.
They were of the opinion that the initiative would create market access to farmers at standardised prices; stimulate more production and close the gap for manufacturers and processors, while also ensuring food security.
Dr. Victor Iyama, National President of Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria, (FACAN), said the initiative will definitely go a long way to minimiSe post-harvest losses and boost production.
Adeola Adegoke, President of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) in his own view commended the CBN and its Governor, Godwin Emefiele on the initiative stating that it is a good step in the right direction in terms of preserving the identity of making sure that the nation has a functional commodity exchange like what farmers in Kenya are enjoying.
“When we look at that step and approval, we must commend the CBN and the Governor who has always been helping in terms of creating a kind of impetus to make sure that we grow the agriculture in Nigeria and to contribute immensely to the nation’s GDP.
Adegoke said, commodity exchange has not lived up to expectations here in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt about that, we have a situation whereby the person that heads commodity exchange does know how much a measurement of rice is being sold in the market.
“The news was awashed with that kind of information gap and if you are unable to know the prices of these staple foods, I wonder how he would be able to buy that kind of staple food, adding that, “commodity exchange has not thrived in Nigeria, we should not deceive ourselves, it has never worked and we are seeing the reason and I think that is why the CBN is also coming in to make sure that it works because we need to bridge the gap.”
He said in bridging the gap, it makes the farmers closer and it bridges the marketing gaps in terms of making sure that they are getting closer to the farmers and farmers are able to buy and sell at a very good price to ginger the income and to ginger marketing; to strengthen the marketing gaps.
Speaking further he noted that those that would drive the exchange is paramount, that they must be those people who are abreast of the problems and issues that are associated with production and marketing and in terms of gaps linkages.
“We don’t want a situation whereby we have people who are trained in advert and are coming in and telling you they don’t know how much a measurement of garri is been sold in the market; when you ask them what a kilo of cocoa is as at today, the person who heads the commodity exchange must know that,” he said.
Adegoke further stressed that though the money is very important, but the Governor and those who will drive the exchange are also very important.
“Farmers must have a kind of confidence, there must be confidence building because if there is no confidence; who is coming to sell their commodity when they are aware that they are going to be cheated.
“The farmers must be carried along; the stakeholders in the agriculture sector must be carried along. There must be seasoned people that are knowledgeable in marketing and in terms of production.
“the money is just a resources that should be harnessed to achieve resources in term of food sufficiency in terms of food security and in terms of getting value for what we produce as farmers and that is why I still believe that a lot of interest must be put into this to make sure that it is not only the release of the money by the CBN.
Biodun Onalaja, Chief Executive Officer – Hyst Global Business Limited, a rice farmer and processor said that if the CBN is serious and genuine about it, it would help the farmers.
“If the CBN is serious and genuine about it I think it will help us. The advice they gave us from the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) is that we should go and get a farm and farmers to produce 70 percent capacity of our mill, so if you are buying 30 percent, you can compete with Cotonou rice.
“I have gotten people to do that for me as the farmers have agreed for us to work together, but because of this herdsmen issue I cannot put my money there, it requires a huge capital because herdsmen will go there and destroy the crops that is one of the problems we are having. Another is buying paddy from the middlemen that is why people cannot afford to buy our rice.
“If they are serious, maybe that will assist us, none of us are able to buy paddy from the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and CBN keep feeding them, giving them money but where they are they selling the rice to we don’t know. They are supposed to be giving us the paddy directly but we are not getting paddy from them.
“I got a letter from the RIFAN president that all the rice they produce in the southwest and north central should give it to me, but till now I have not seen anything”.
Onalaja also said that the initiative would put Nigeria in a vintage position to maximise the benefit of AfCTA, if the CBN is really serious about it.
He said one thing is for the government to say something; another this is the implementation, stressing that implementation is the problem in this country.
“The money they have injected into RIFAN, we RIPAN cannot feel it. That is why our rice is N21, 000 to N22,000 for distributors while Cotonou is selling for N17,000 to 18,000, this thing affected us drastically in December, none of us made money and people are buying Cotonou rice, “that is another problem with this government, you say you ban rice and poultry products and they are in the market and people are buying and rejecting our own.
“People that have collected money, how do you expect them to pay back. People have collected intervention funds from CBN how do you want them to pay back,” he lamented.
It would be recalled that Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, who heads the steering committee. said during the Inaugural Meeting of the Steering Committee recently that the NCX would be restructured so that farmers could have access to buyers at the exchange, thus eliminating shortchange by middlemen and post-harvest management difficulties.
“It is against this backdrop that Mr President considered and approved a proposal, for the repositioning of NCX, in order to consolidate on the government’s efforts aimed at strengthening the agricultural value chains, part of which includes connecting farmers to markets beyond their immediate environments,” the governor had said.
Emefiele argued that to boost agriculture in the country, fundamental challenges of marketing, storage and off-taking and linkage to industrial users must be tackled to grow the nation’s economy.
Other members of the committee are representatives from NSIA and AFC, as well as, the Federal Ministries of Finance, Budget & National Planning; Industry, Trade & Investment; and Agriculture.
The Commodity Exchange has also claimed that 20 licenced warehouses have been secured in six geopolitical zones, specifically in Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Ebony, Ekiti, and Kogi and additional ones being emplaced in Adamawa, Globe, Taraba, Jigawa, Edo, Cross River and Ondo states.
The main produce for the exchange includes rice paddies, maize, cocoa, beans, groundnuts, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, soya beans and sorghum among others.