The Nigerian government has approved a grant of 15 billion Naira (about US$94 million) to the country’s Bank of Agriculture (BOA) which will in turn grant loans to farmers at a single-digit interest rate for the 2013 farming season, Vice President Namadi Sambo, announced here Thursday.
At the closing ceremony of the 19th edition of the Nigerian National Economic Summit, organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in partnership with the National Planning Commission, Sambo also said that the National Council on Privatisation had been granted approval to unbundle the BOA with a view to making it more efficient.
This approach, he said, is to help find solutions to the problems impeding access to cheap financing by farmers.
Vice President Sambo stated that the development was in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration’s drive to redefine agriculture as a business and make it more competitive, adding that Government was committed to diversifying the economy to create wealth and jobs.
Sambo said the Jonathan administration was addressing all other bottlenecks hampering the agricultural sector by unlocking all its potentials, through favourable policy instruments, women and youth empowerment initiatives, land security, revitalisation of the transport sector, improving power supply, access to markets, and revival of commodity exchange systems.
“The face of agriculture has changed in this country, and it is refreshing. Agriculture is no longer a development programme. Agriculture is now a business. In the transformation of our agriculture, we are taking the full value chain approach, from the farm to the table. As we grow agriculture, non-farm income and employment opportunities will develop, through multiplier effects in the local economy,” he said.
The vice president said Nigeria’s collective future depends on agriculture, adding that “all hands must therefore be on deck to assure that Nigeria becomes a global agricultural powerhouse.”
The Director General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Frank Nweke, presenting a summary report of the Summit, said the Summit stressed that there was the need for linkages across all sectors of the economy, women and youth empowerment, access to financing, revitalisation of commodity exchanges, as well as provision of infrastructure to realise the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
Others, he mentioned, were the exhibition of political will and partnership with the private sector by all tiers of government, research and development and policy sustainability.
He also said that the Summit had proposed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development be renamed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agric Business to reflect the new thinking of Government.