The Federal Government has said it is working out modalities for the recapitalisation of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) to enable it perform its statutory role of providing finance for farmers.
Technical Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Kayode Oyeleye, who disclosed this in Lagos during the third Agra Innovate West Africa conferences and exhibition, said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was ready to address one of the major challenges farmers face in Nigeria which is access to funding.
He said: “We are planning to support the Bank of Agriculture to enable it perform its statutory duties. In that wise, the bank will be recapitalised to enable it lend more than it is currently lending. We are doing this because one of the major challenges of farmers is finance, we know that if we are able to empower the BoA to make more funds available to the farmers at good interest rate, the agricultural sector will be able to contribute effectively to our economic development.”
Oyeleye who stood in for the Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh at the conference also clarified the issue of the importation of grasses as attributed to the minister saying that what the minister was talking about was the seeds of grasses not grasses themselves. According to him, there is no way Nigeria would be importing ship loads of grasses into this country. “What the Minister was talking about is that Nigeria will import the seeds of high quality grasses for planting in Nigeria. That way we would have enough feeds for cattle by the time we go into ranching.”
He explained that the purpose of the conference is to showcase the potential in agriculture and encourage the public to look into the opportunities and see how they can tap into it.
“We have all seen now that agriculture is a good alternative for powering the economy of this country, that is why at the ministry, we call it, the green alternative,” he said. “The policy trust of this government on agriculture is to improve on areas that need to be improved upon and to see how the various gaps that may have been existing could be filled up. To that extent we have come up with a policy document highlighting those gaps.
“What we are also looking at is how to transform the various components in the document into business opportunities. The ministry is also leveraging on the gains that have been made in the last four years under the previous administration. We have also said that policies that have worked under the previous administration would continue so as to maintain investors’ confidence. While building on the gains of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the previous administration, the green alternative document has also set out key areas of intervention. One of the things we are pursuing is to create real business opportunities for those in the agric sector.”
The three day conference which attracted exhibitors from around the world was supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG).
The event was attended by many dignitaries in the agricultural sector including Plateau State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Lynda Hennang Shekinah Barau, the Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Women Nigeria, Dr. ’Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Fatima Ali Mohammed of the Association of Ghana Industries and Dr. Harold Roy-Macauley of the Africa Rice Center among others.
Speaking on the conference, Programme Director, Agra Innovate West Africa, Folusho Olaniyan, said: “The Agra Innovate has been a huge success, with over 1200 attendees. The rooms and the halls have been full and we have seen extensive knowledge sharing, networking, technology transfer and deal-making.”