Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Bank of Agriculture in Debt

By Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA—THE Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said the Bank of Agriculture has been in deficit of N40 billion.

Ogbeh said this while explaining to journalists the position of the bank and the expected role it would play to transform the sector.

He said: “The Bank of Agriculture is in deficit to the tune of nearly N40 billion in debt: debts reaching as far back as 20 years. The bank is weak. We are about to start measures to recover them.

“We need to give cheap funds to farmers, especially because we are asking the younger people go get into agriculture. The current interest rate regime cannot sustain agriculture and that is where we are heading.

“We are looking for a Bank of Agriculture that is strong enough on capital to lend cheaply to farmers. The process is going on.

“The Federal Government’s capital in the new bank will be about 20 percent, private sector investment and that of the nearly 25 million farmers in the country will make up the rest, then it will become the biggest bank in the country and the bank servicing the rural areas.”

According to the minister, Federal Government has intensified efforts to revive the bank for better performance and boost farmers’ access to low-interest loans to boost food production in accordance with the diversification project of the Buhari-led administration.

On the problems with the bank, Ogbeh said: “The bank is structurally weak, it is not digitalised and management has to be strengthened. Right now there is a programme by the bureau of public enterprise to restructure and re-energise the bank.

“When they do, we shall operate that bank along the lines of the Rabo Bank of Holland and the Credit Agricole of France.”


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