The government praised the CBN and the Bankers Committee for slashing the interest rate from 25 percent to 9 percent to enable farmers have access to loans
Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government said it is considering discussing with banks, especially the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL) to help reduce the lending rate for loans to farmers, preferably to 5 percent.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this recently in Abuja at an interactive session with journalists. This is even as the government praised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers Committee for slashing the interest rate from 25 percent to 9 percent to enable farmers have access to loans, particularly under the Real Sector Support Fund (RSSF).
Ogbeh, however, called on farmers to repay their loans as soon as possible.
“We also urge all borrowers to strive to repay loans and we, in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, will join hands to ensure that farmers repay loans granted them as there will be no more excuses under these new conditions. Our youths and women and small holders can now access credit to fulfill their dreams and aspiration.”
He added that, “borrowers are to adhere strictly to the terms and conditions of the loans and utilise funds for the purpose for which they are granted. Borrowers will be mandated to make the project and records available for inspection and verification by CBN.”
On the employment of rangers, Ogbeh said the initial 5,000 employment target might not be realisable due to paucity of funds but government would employ at least 2,500 cattle rangers.
“We may not be able to employ 5,000. We may probably deploy about 2,500 this year. The recruitment will begin when budget releases begin to happen and the army will have to train them because we need them to stop rustlers stealing herdsmen’s cattle and attacking major investors in agriculture,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Dr. Michael Ojo, has said that preliminary research shows that Nigeria is losing up to N10 billion on post-harvest damages.
Ojo made the revelation in an interview in Lagos on the sidelines of the just-concluded “NutriPitch,” the Nourish Nigeria Challenge. The Nourish Nigeria Challenge is a programme by SBN in partnership with GAIN and supported by FATE Foundation.
The programme received 140 applications for participation in the challenge from 26 states across Nigeria that were admitted into NutriPitch.
The entrepreneurs at the event were made to go through an accelerator programme, which was addressed by Nutrition and Food Safety, Value Chain Analysis, Financial Management and Investor Readiness.
The top five competitors are billed to represent Nigeria in October 2018 at the regional conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
On the impact of post-harvest loss to the economy, Ojo said it was worrisome to see the volume of essential food items being wasted either during transportation or unsold while some are dying of hunger.