Bank of Agriculture seeks ways to bridge financing gap

Aliyu Othman, Port Harcourt

The Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture in Nigeria, Professor Danbala Danju has called on intervention agencies to increase the funding of agriculture to ensure the realisation of the diversification drive in the country.

Prof. Danju, who said this in Port Harcourt, Rivers State at the 2016 All Nigeria Editors Conference added that Nigeria faces deficit of over one point four trillion Naira with only 350 billion (about 25% of the required fund) provided in recent years.

“The financing gap estimated at 1.4 trillion Naira and the total funding of the sector all inclusive of government and interventions agencies remained at 25% of total requirements”

He said the various intervention funds from the likes of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Nigeria Export Import Bank, Bank of Agriculture BOA, African Development Bank and World Bank had not changed the financing needs of the sector.

” There is low financing of agriculture compared to industry, real estate and oil and gas and that needs to change for Nigeria to achieve the desired objectives of diversification of the economy”

Danju said the Bank of Agriculture is adopting new measures to address the identified problems by injecting new financing windows and reform their utilisation plan like the Youth Agriculture Revolution in Nigeria that seeks to provide at least One million Naira loan with no collaterals attached.

” The grow an earn more scheme targets the women farmers, anchor borrowers mainly on value chain to achieve the diversification strategy of government and input procurement facility encourages manufacturers to provide the needed inputs, chemicals and machinery required for mechanised agriculture in Nigeria”

The managing Director of Bank of Agriculture said all these efforts would be achieved through the introduction of modern techniques to identify the farmers, capture their biometrics and follow their production chain to ensure value for money and return of the investments in Nigeria.

The Governor of Osun State, South West Nigeria, Mr Rauf Aregbesola said Nigeria has all the potentials to be great through agriculture but it must add value to its agriculture products.

He said “Nigeria’s average cocoa output is between 15-20 metric tonnes per hectare, the Africa cocoa output average remained at 12 metric tonne per hectare but India produces 24.8 metric tonne per hectare while Thailand attained 80 metric tonne per hectare close to the world target of 120 metric tonnes. This must be changed” he stressed.

Aregbesola said Nigeria as the leading cocoa producer in the world could not achieve the average hectare metric tonnes in the world and called for the improvement of the processing of produce like cassava, cocoa, cowpea and Shea butter that have many variables for local consumption and exports.

The Governor of Rivers state, Chief Nyosom Wike said the State has identified the need to promote extension services to fast track the development of Agriculture and the reintroduction of farm settlements in public and private schools in the state.