Audu Ogbeh, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development has urged the Organised Private Sector (OPS), especially Nigerian banks, to increase funding in agriculture and make the country food self-sufficient.
The Minister, who identified lack of capital and research as a major hindrance to job creation and development in the sector, stressed the need for banks to support the growth of the sector by lending on a single digit rate to farmers.
Addressing participants at the maiden FirstBank Agric Expo, held in Lagos on Tuesday, Ogbeh said that increased funding of the sector would empower farmers who seek funds to expand their businesses for increased yield.
This will in turn, impact on harvest though the availability of foods for the masses, higher revenues for farmers and greater contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“This economy can grow in other sections not only oil and gas. You can demystify the nursery of interest rate. The farmers have no collateral. We can find a way of making sure that your money is not lost through engaging in cooperatives. Farmers would not default on loans, and can restructure the loans.
“Banks are afraid to invest on the sector due to fear of not recovering their money. Nigeria has less than 30,000 tractors most often are not functional. India has one million tractors. Lack of credit, research institutions are issues we must seriously tackle.”
By Tony Nwanne