The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh, has said the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) is currently crippled with about N40 billion deficit dating back to 20 years.
The minister also said measures are being put in place to recover the money, restructure and recapitalise the bank to function at its full capacity.
Ogbeh also harped on the need to revive the bank in order to facilitate credit facilities for farmers as the interest rate of commercial banks have not been farmers’ friendly.
According to him “the Bank of Agriculture in in deficit to the tune of nearly N40 billion debts dating back to 20 years. So they are very weak now, we are about to start measures to recover them.
“The bank is structurally weak, it is not digitalised and management has to be strengthened”.
He revealed that a programme is ongoing to strengthen the bank in the next 9 months to compete favourably with its counterparts in other countries.
“Right now, a programme is in place by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to restructure and re-energise and when we do so, we shall operate the bank along the lines of Rabo bank of Holland and the credit Agricole of France.
“The current interest rate regime cannot sustain agriculture and that’s where we are heading, in another 9 months, it will be there, the processes are slow but the CBN is work, the President is pushing and the Vice President is working on it.
“We are looking for the Bank of Agriculture strong enough in capital to lend cheaply to farmers, the process is going on, the Federal Government capital in the new bank will be 20 per cent, private sector investment and that of the nearly 25 million farmers in this country will make up the rest, then that bank will be the biggest bank in the country and the bank servicing the rural areas” he noted.
Chief Ogbeh further added “We expect investors like PenCom and the new Nigeria Development Bank and foreign development banks, the World Bank will invest in this project”.