FG assures single digit credit facility to Nigerian farmers

The Federal Government has pledged to slash the interest rate for Nigerian farmers to single digit to enable the private sector to mechanize agriculture and improve its value chain and packaging in line the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of the government.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, gave this assurance while delivering his address at the two-day First Annual Conference on Agribusiness and Policy Linkage, organized by the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL) and others stakeholder, which ended in Abuja on Thursday.

The conference was organized to find solutions to the myriad of crises militating against modernized agriculture in the country as stakeholders from the private sector are encouraged to engage the government to address the challenges. The Conference Implementation Task and the ERGP Implementation Unit were inaugurated to chart a new direction in the sector.

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The Minister, who leveraged on the theme “implementing the agriculture components of the ERGP,” lamented the high interest rate at 25%, saying, “Credit to agriculture is impossible to access, which is why NIRSAL is working so hard to address the matter. You cannot borrow at 25% and apply to agriculture, there is hardly any business in production that goes on that rate of interest and makes progress.

“We have to restructure agric credit, which is the role NIRSAL is playing, but the good news is that last week at the Council of Ministers meeting, we have resolved to raise a fund to support agriculture and industry on one digit interest rate and the Vice President is heading the committee, and I want to assure you that we shall strive to keep it at 10 %,” he said.

He said that the federal government’s policy on agriculture has started yielding fruits in agriculture especially in rice production stressing that by September 2015 Nigeria was importing 644, 181 tonnes of rice and “exactly two years later, September this year, the import dropped to 20,000 tonnes, that is 95% reduction.’’

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“There are 12.2 million people growing rice in Nigeria. In Kano alone we have 120, 00 rice mills, big and small, we have large mills in Anambra, Ebonyi, Nasrarwa, Jigawa, Kebbi and more are coming up. All these would have been impossible if we have not made up our minds to cut down on imports,” he said, even as he lamented that smugglers have been busy trying to sabotage the government’s effort.

The president of NACCIMA Iyalode Alaba Lawson told reports in an interview that NACCIMA is helping the Government to diversify the economy, adding that conference is meant to find ways to implement the recommendations reached in terms of research development and research marketing in line with the ERGP.

The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed, buttressed that the organization is collaborating with NACCIMA to support the private sector to lead agribusiness saying “What you observed today is exactly what has been handed over to NIRSAL by the CBN to get private actors in the value chain from primary production all the way to processing to retail and export and get them the requisite finance.”


 Innocent Odoh, Abuja

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