Although agriculture was up against diverse obstacles in 2016, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has expressed determination to ride out the storm in 2017 by embarking on many ambitious projects.
This viewpoint was made known by the Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh at the inauguration of the National Council on Privatisation steering committee on the restructuring and re-capitalisation of the Bank of Agriculture and the Project Delivery Team.
“The aim is to make sure that we embark on these major projects. So, agriculture continues to be an all-year-round activity. And we too can continue to provide fresh food.”
“In the interim, our biggest achievement last year has been that we were able to put the Nigerian rice on dining tables for Christmas and Nigerians are now discovering that their own rice is actually better than what they have been eating from outside.
We believe that, by the end of this year, it should no longer be necessary for us to have to ban rice. It would be an automatic selection by Nigerians.”
“I thank the Governor of Central Bank for his intervention in the anchor borrowers’ scheme, the Minister added. “Without that, this year, I am not sure we would have had much to boast about in agriculture, especially in the production of grains, in which sector, I think, we can beat our chest and say we gave Nigerians rice for Christmas. Good rice too, and superior rice, compared to some of the stuffs coming in from outside.”
Talking to the CBN Governor, Chief Ogbeh said: “I want to encourage you to continue to do so until the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) is strong enough to take on the responsibility at affordable interest rates, and yet meeting its banking obligations.”
Announcing the restricting of BoA, Chief Ogbeh hinted at restructuring, reduction of interest rates, lending at single digits and building an agric bank that would automatically double, not only as an agric bank, but also as some kind of community bank, found in all villages and farming communities.”
He stressed that “there are new efforts we are making towards fertiliser production and supply, bringing in the youth and on mechanisation, more tractors, more harvesters, to ease the burden on agriculture, so it can become a hobby for many, instead of the drudgery. He called on the public to “note the essence of the FGN’s decision to embark on this strategic step in the BoA revamp process. First, the vice president and chairman of NCP recently approved the proposed restructuring and recapitalisation strategy to revitalise the operations of BoA.”