The Federal Government of Nigeria, on Tuesday, January 12 charged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reduce the lending rate to farmers in the country to five per cent.
Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh who spoke in Idofian, Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State during the launch of the second phase of agricultural equipment hiring enterprise, said: “We thank the CBN for the efforts it has made so far to lend money to farmers at nine per cent interest rate. But we are like Oliver Twist, nine per cent is very good but it is not good enough for agriculture. Nine per cent is the highest for agriculture anywhere on planet earth.
“We want five per cent and we are going to plead with banks if they want this country to feed well- agriculture to grow and Nigeria to become a major exporter of food, interest rate has to reduce to the barest minimum. Five per cent will give them more returns as more farmers will borrow and pay back.
“Beginning from this year, Nigeria will embark on agro-forestry.
We are looking at cashew at least two million trees a year, cocoa three million per year, because there should be no reason why Nigeria should be number 10 on the line of cocoa producers when just 50 years ago, we were number one. We are now miserably behind Ivory Coast and Ghana. We shall plant more castor seeds. Nigeria spends $350 million yearly importing castor oil.”
He said the programme on rice and wheat will increase, adding that another programme on cattle breed improvement is underway. He said 200 farmers in the country will start the programme which he said will be private sector driven but supported by the treasury.