Nigerian govt targets 5% lending rate to farmers next year – Minister

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Chief Audu Ogbeh
Chief Audu Ogbeh

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said with the on-going reform in the Bank of Agriculture, Nigerian farmers would start accessing loans at 5% interest rate.

Chief Ogbeh, who made the disclosure at a Special Town Hall Meeting on Agriculture in Dutse, Jigawa State, on Monday, said the current reduction of interest rate on lending to farmers to 9% has ignited a revolution in agriculture in the country.

According to him, the revolution in agriculture by the present administration has now turned Nigeria into an exporter of agricultural products.

“In July this year, the Tin Can Island published a report that Agricultural export has risen by 150%. Containers leaving Nigeria are no longer going empty,” he said.

Also speaking, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said there is no doubt that the Buhari Administration has made a giant stride in the area of Agriculture, which is widely regarded as one of the success stories of the Administration.

The minister, however, warned Nigerians not expect support from any food exporting country for Nigeria’s ongoing policy to ensure self-sufficiency in food production.

He cited a recent report which said that Nigeria imported 400,000 Metric Tonnes (of rice) more this year, even though the country has reduced rice importation by 90%, as the handiwork of detractors who are bent on dampening the resolve of the government to exit food importation.

“Please permit me to alert Nigerians to the reality out there: In pursuing our agricultural revolution, which will ultimately lead to self-sufficiency in the national staples, we should not expect accolades and support from outside, especially from countries that have hitherto been the main exporters of food items such as rice to
Nigeria.

“Every nation pursues its national interest, and it is definitely not in their interest for Nigeria to produce what it consumes, because it means you will no longer import from such countries.

“It is in that context that Nigerians should see the recent fake news that Nigeria imported 400,000 metric tonnes more than the quantity of rice imported in 2017. The report, quoting the 2018 United States Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade Report, also posited that Nigeria’s local rice production is dropping. When the figures were challenged, they could not provide any empirical ground for the report,” Mr Mohammed said.

He said contrary to the report, the Central Bank of Nigeria revealed that it had not allocated any foreign exchange for the importation of rice this year because rice importation has reduced to the barest minimum.

“So those who claimed that Nigeria imported 400,000 MT of rice more this year have not been truthful,” the Minister said.

Earlier, the Governor of Jigawa State, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, had led the four Ministers who came for the Special Town Hall Meeting on the tour of an agricultural exhibition where farm products including processed and packaged local rice, packaged soya beans, sesame seeds, curry powder, fruit juice, fish, goats, rams as well as farming implements were on display.

Other Ministers at the Town Hall Meeting were the Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adamu, and the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar.