By Dipo Olowookere
The Federal Government has expressed its willingness to recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) so as to strengthen it.
Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbe, made this known at the AGRIKEXPO/NABG Conference held on Monday in Abuja.
At the three-day event themed ‘From Food Oil to Crude Oil’, Mr Ogbe said the recapitalisation of the BOA would enable the bank provide credit facilities to Small and Medium Scale farmers at around 7% interest rate.
He said when this is done; more people would go into farming, thereby achieving the aim of the present administration to diversify the economy, which has heavily relied on crude oil for many years.
The Minister regretted that despite the fact that the agricultural sector remains the biggest employer of labour and largest contributor to the GDP, the country was yet to maximize its potential as less than 40% of the arable lands are being cultivated.
However, Mr Ogbe commended chairman of the Nigeria AgricBusiness Group (NABG), Sani Dangote, for his contribution to the development of the sector in the country.
He said Mr Dangote’s NABG and Dangote Group were making farming attractive and wooing investors at the same time; while the Dangote Group has invested enormously and created jobs across the value chain.
The Minister said in about 30 years’ time, the Nigerian population would be in the region of 500million people, while the world’s population would hit 10billion, adding that there was need to prepare ahead.
He said that the government was planning a Farmers’ Day where farmers will be appreciated and rewarded, just as he announced that the government was collaborating with relevant international agencies to bring back extension services.
Also speaking at the conference, Mr Dangote said the NABG is an association for all associations and stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
He urged Nigerians to look at the current economic problem as an opportunity to invest in the agricultural sector.
Mr Dangote is the Vice President of the Dangote Group.