The Central Bank of Nigeria disbursed N539.8m loans to farmers between January and March 2020.
It disclosed this in its third quarter economic report on titled ‘Agricultural credit guarantee scheme’, obtained on Monday.
Part of the report reads, “A total of N539.8m loans was guaranteed to 3,161 farmers under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme in the first quarter of 2020.
“This represented a decrease of 53.9 per cent and 34.8 per cent below the levels in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2019 respectively.”
Sub-sectorial analysis showed that food crops obtained the largest share of the total, with N291.6m (54.0 per cent) guaranteed to 1,958 beneficiaries; followed by the livestock, N115.2m (21.3 per cent) guaranteed to 430 beneficiaries.
Cash crops had N64.9m (12 per cent) guaranteed to 335 beneficiaries; fisheries, mixed crops and ‘others’ received N36.1m (6.7 per cent), N16.8m (3.1 per cent) and N15.3m (2.9 per cent), respectively, guaranteed to 121, 233, and 84 beneficiaries.
Analysis by state showed that 30 states and the Federal Capital Territory benefited from the scheme in the review quarter, with the highest and lowest sums of N54.8m (10.2 per cent) and N1.8m (0.3 per cent) guaranteed to Ogun and Nasarawa states respectively.
The bank stated that agricultural activities in the first quarter of 2020 were predominantly preparation of land for early wet season planting, harvesting of tree crops and irrigation-fed vegetables.
In the livestock sub-sector, it stated, farmers continued to intensify efforts towards raising of poultry birds and cattle in preparation for the 2020 Easter festivity.
The CBN said during the quarter, the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the Federal Government, signed a $500m memorandum initiative to develop four special agro-industrial processing zones in the country.
The special agro-industrial processing zones were designed to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential to boost productivity, integrate production, processing and marketing of selected commodities, it stated.
It said the initiative was capable of boosting the structural transformation of the economy by providing opportunities for public and private sector investments.
The report said, “Following the outbreak of COVID-19, which led to lockdown in major cities around the globe, the Nigerian agricultural sector in Q1 2020, witnessed a huge demand uptick arising from panic buying, mostly for essential commodities.
“The panic buying was fueled by the speculations of economic slow-down.”
It stated that the development also led to increase in commodity prices in the market.