The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, said that efforts are being put in place by the government to recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) so that it can give loans to farmers at a single digit interest rate.
This is just as the Vice President said that 100,000 out of the 500,000 teachers that will be recruited soon will be trained as extension workers for Nigerian farmers.
Speaking at the official Launch /Public Presentation of the Agricultural Sector Roadmap, Professor Osinbajo said there is need to revamp the agricultural sector to be the major driver of the economy.
According to him “the Ministry of Finance has concluded plans to recapitalise and re-engineer the Bank of Agriculture, we expect that before the end of this quarter, the BOA should be ready to give single digit interest rate loans to farmers.
“We knew we had to set a right economy and put the economy in the path of inclusive growth and job opportunity for our huge population, one of the components of that plan is to position agriculture as the arrowhead of our economic recovery efforts.
“There is no question at all that if we get agriculture right, we will get the economy right”.
He added that the agricultural roadmap identified two key challenges which includes the inability to meet domestic food production and inability to export at levels for market acceptance.
The Vice President explained that “the problem have never being in the home or lack of policy it has always being the focus and capacity to stick to the plan to modify where necessary but to stick to the plan and ensure also that the plan aligns with all aspects of the economic plan of the government.
“This particular issue of alignment is crucial, just to give an obvious example, you cannot have a policy of encouraging production of food and on the other hand have a high tariff on imported agricultural equipment.
“There is no way that we can encourage local food production when we allow unbridled importation of the same thing that we are trying to produce.”
Professor Osinbajo also said that the government will train 100,000 farm extension workers out of the 500,000 teachers to be recruited for farmers.
On the planned primary school food feeding programme, the Vice President said “our home grown school feeding programme which is one good meal a day for primary school children is described as home grown specifically that the food will be from the farms of each state.”
On his part, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh said that the new agricultural roadmap has three pillars which includes Productivity Enhancement, Crowding in Private Investors and Institutional Strengthening/Realignment.
He also explained that the key target of the roadmap is “growing agriculture annually between 6 per cent to 12 per cent, doubling agricultural household incomes in 6 to 12 years, integrating agricultural commodity value chains into broader supply chains.
“Driving job growth and wealth creation, as well as ensuring enhanced capacity for foreign exchange earnings. Others key targets are promoting responsible use of land, water and other natural resources for Sustainable livelihoods.
“Facilitating the capacity of the country to meet her obligations to the citizenry on food security, promoting food safety and quality nutrition, and instituting improved governance architectural system in the agricultural sector”.