CBN agrees to 5% lending rate for farmers – Ogbeh

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has agreed that loans by banks
to farmers in the country should attract only five per cent interest,
the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh,
said Tuesday.
Mr. Ogbeh made this known on Tuesday, while delivering a
keynote address at the opening of a two-day national workshop
on a “New Agricultural Policy for Nigeria”.
The workshop was organised by the National Agricultural
Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN) in collaboration with the ministry
and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).
According to the minister, the agreement followed discussions
with key officials of the apex bank on Tuesday morning.
“Just this morning, I have talks with key officials of the Central
Bank of Nigeria to bring the lending rate to five per cent.
“How they do it, how the finance institutions want to cope with it,
they have to or we impose severe penalty on anyone who
defaults, otherwise we will not survive.
“There is no country on earth in or outside Africa, where banks
demand 25, 18 or even nine per cent interest rate for agriculture
borrowing.
“With those rates, I assure you as a man, who has been in this
business – agriculture – since the age of seven years, you cannot
make profit in agriculture,’’ Mr. Ogbeh said.
The minister said that agriculture and solid minerals remain the
alternative sectors to which the country could diversify now to
survive current economic situation.
He said: “The challenge before us is how to make this happen. The
time for lamentation is over. The time for action is here”.
Mr. Ogbeh said unless this was done, the problem of youth
unemployment and youth restiveness would continue to plague
the country.
“We have 100 million young people in the country who are below
the age of 50 years and if we do not give them job, they are likely
to take care of us in a very rough manner,’’ he said.
Mr. Ogbeh said the outbreak of bird flu and pastoralists/farmers
clashes remained challenges to the sector, adding that in the last
two months, the flu had killed between five and six million birds.
He, however, said that a vaccine had been found for the virus.
“I have been calling friends across the globe.
“Just yesterday, I received a message from Egypt and they
informed me that they have found a vaccine which they injected
the chickens with which is working perfectly well.
“We will not immediately rush in and bring the vaccines, we will
ask our research institutes to take a look and see if they can fit into
our needs.
“Every January, we have this problem of avian flu, it has
destroyed many farmers; we are looking forward to finding some
resources to compensate them.
“We do not have enough money right now even to pay arrears of
certain debts which were piled up before now but we will do what
we can,’’ the minister said.
Earlier, Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman, Senate Committee on
Agriculture, suggested the creation of a forum where farmers and
the ministry could regularly dialogue in formulating agriculture
rebirth policies.
Mr. Adamu, also the chairman, NAFN, said this was necessary as
farmers were the one to really implement agriculture policies.
He said they needed to be brought on board for proper education
on policy objectives and direction.
Mr. Adamu also suggested that there should be clear policy on the
procurement and sale of fertilisers at the right time during farming
season.

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