The Federal Government has approved the grant of fifteen billion naira (N15 billion) to the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), to be provided to farmers at single digit interest rate for the 2013 farming season.
The Vice President, Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja, during the Closing Ceremony of the 19th edition of the National Economic Summit, organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in partnership with the National Planning Commission.
Similarly, Vice President Sambo said to make the BOA more efficient the National Council on Privatisation had been granted approval for its unbundling, noting that government was mindful of the problems currently facing access to cheap financing by farmers.
Accordingly he said “Mr. President has approved the grant of N15 billion to the Agricultural Bank to be provided to our farmers for the 2013 farming season at one digit interest rate. Furthermore the National Council on Privatisation has been granted approval by Mr. President to privatise the Bank of Agriculture in order to unbundle it and make available cheaper funds for agricultural development.”
The Vice President emphasised that this was in line with the administration’s drive to redefine agriculture as a business and make it more competitive, adding that Government was committed to diversifying the economy to create wealth and jobs.
Speaking further he stated that the President Jonathan administration was addressing all other bottlenecks hampering the agric sector by unlocking all its potentials, through favourable policy instruments, women and youth empowerment initiatives, land security, revitalisation of the transport sector, improving power supply, access to markets and revival of commodity exchange systems.
“The face of agriculture has changed in this country, and it is refreshing. Agriculture is no longer a development programme. Agriculture is now a business. In the transformation of our agriculture, we are taking the full value chain approach, from the farm to the table. As we grow agriculture, non-farm income and employment opportunities will develop, through multiplier effects in the local economy.
Arc Sambo while commending the NESG for adopting a very appropriate theme which was dear to Nigerians, said “our collective future depends on agriculture. All hands must therefore be on deck to assure that Nigeria becomes a global agricultural powerhouse. We will not relent. We will succeed.”
The Director General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. Frank Nweke II, presenting a summary report of the Summit, said the Summit stressed that to realise the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, there was the need for linkages across all sectors of the economy, women and youth empowerment, access to financing, revitalisation of commodity exchanges, as well as provision of infrastructure.
Others he mentioned were the exhibition of political will and partnership with the private sector by all tiers of government, research and development and policy sustainability. He also said that the Summit had proposed the renaming of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agric Business to reflect the new thinking of Government.
Highlight of the closing ceremony was a plenary session chaired by Mr. Atedo Peterside, the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation.