- FG to Recapitalise Agric Bank With N3tn
The Federal Government will recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture to the tune of N3tn in order to enable farmers in the country to have access to funds at affordable interest rates.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, said this on Monday at the inaugural harvest of a Tilapia from a fish farm belonging to Premium Aquaculture Limited, Oyan Dam in Abeokuta.
He noted that access to funding remained one of the biggest challenges being faced by farmers in the country.
Lokpobiri lamented that commercial banks were not ready to fund agriculture, hence the decision by the Federal Government to recapitalise the bank in order to boost the agricultural sector.
The minister said the nation’s fish demand stood at 3.1 metric tonnes per annum, but the current production was around 1.1 metric tonnes per annum, leaving a deficit of 2.1 metric tonnes.
He said the government resorted to backward integration by encouraging local fish farmers to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
Lokpobiri stated, “When this administration came on board, the supply was around 800,000 metric tonnes per annum, but due to government policy on fishery by the Ministry of Agriculture, the country is now doing 1.1 metric tonnes per annum.
“Fish is the cheapest source of protein for Nigerians; the challenge is not only meeting Nigerians’ demand, but also that of West Africa. People even come from North Africa to buy fish and grains in Nigeria.”
He, however, commended the company and other firms that had contributed immensely to local fish production, urging Nigerians to embrace agriculture, particularly fish farming, “as both the rich and the poor need food to survive.”
In his remarks, a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was a guest at the event, said the government should create an enabling environment for investors in agriculture to thrive in the country.
Obasanjo called on the company to encourage out growers to ease the transfer of technology and create employment opportunities for the youth.
He said, “Your work will be much more appreciated if you can make what I call out growers’ employment generation and wealth creation for our youth, not only in Ogun State but throughout the country.”