From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

Prof Remy Onyekachi Mejeha of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) has described agriculture as the main productive sector of the Nigerian economy and, as such, the government should assist farmers to access loans to enable those involved in the business to make use of the factors of production in order to generate income for the survival of the country.

Prof Mejeha stated this at MOUAU’s auditorium during the institution’s 50th Inaugural Lecture which he presented.

Presenting the Inaugural Lecture entitled, “Financial Intermediation in Agriculture: Hidden treasure mobilized for wealth creation”, the Professor of Agriculture Economics disclosed that financial intermediaries perform the function of a middleman in providing funds for agriculture.

Describing financial Intermediation in agriculture as the role which financial institutions play in providing funds to stakeholders, to maximize production, Prof Mejeha said the Nigerian government should encourage farmers to have access to loans.

Listing the functions of financial intermediaries chief among which is information production, especially as it concerns creditworthiness of prospective borrowers, the 50th inaugural lecturer said those involved in the business of agriculture should be able to make good use of them.

‘Lenders and borrowers are not equally informed about the details of their transactions. In other words, the financial intermediaries have more information than the borrowers regarding the financial instruments,’ he said.

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Prof Mejeha said financial Intermediation was meant to provide financing services to different economic units, including agriculture.

‘Production units in agriculture,’ Prof Mejeha said ‘include, individual farmers, family farms, group farms, cooperative farms under different names. These production units generate income and make investments into real assets, they, therefore, have a need for financial Intermediation.’

Concerning the ‘Hidden Treasure concept’ in his inaugural lecture tagged the golden inaugural lecture, Prof Mejeha said there were huge agricultural treasures lying unproductive inside agricultural lands.

Such treasures he said include unharnessed crops plantations, rubber plantations, cashew and cocoa plantations and agro-forest resources.

He said Nigeria should pay much attention to agriculture because the oil Wells would soon dry up and the nation would fall back to agriculture.

Earlier while declaring the 59th Inaugural lecture open, the Vice Chancellor of the Institution, Prof Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe said he was optimistic that Prof Mejeha would with his inaugural lecture, proffer a solution to the dwindling fortunes of the Naira and by extension, the Nigerian economy.

He promised to ensure that despite the fact that inaugural lectures are capital intensive, the Institution should have hers as frequent as it should be.