The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has explained that repositioning the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) is non-negotiable, as the process will improve small-holder farmers’ access to grants, boost food production and generate revenue for the country.
He made this known during a familiarisation tour of some agricultural institutions in Kaduna State over the weekend, saying the Federal Government remained committed to the diversification plan through agriculture.
Abubakar, who said the plan would boost nutrition and food security, increase local farmers’ income and create more jobs for Nigerian farmers, added that the bank, as a development financial institution in the agriculture sector, would provide agriculture and rural financing for small-holder farmers.
“It will stimulate improvement in the lives of the farmers and growth across the farming communities. President, Muhammadu Buhari is very passionate about the need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow, to de-emphasize unnecessary importation of food which constitutes a drain on our foreign exchange,” he said.
The minister revealed ongoing plans by the ministry, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to streamline agricultural loans to small-holder farmers for proper utiltilasation, effective production and an efficient services’ scheme for Nigerian farmers across the value chain.
He pledged that, under his watch, the ministry would ensure that the bank obtained a licence to operate maximally and deliver services towards achieving its core objectives and mandate.
Abubakar stated that the diversification agenda of the present administration is one of the cardinal policies aimed at achieving nutrition and food security, reducing poverty rate and improving the agri-business in the agricultural sector.
Earlier in his remarks, the bank’s acting managing director, Alhaji Alwan Hassan, appealed for the completion of the restructuring and recapitalisation of the bank as approved by its shareholders on August 18, 2021, especially as it concerns engaging the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoFI) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the release of the capital allotted to them.
Hassan called for a write-off of the loan component of the Cassava Bread Initiative Fund and the Agricultural Mechanization Intervention outstanding loan.
In a related development, the minister visited the Federal Cooperative College, Kaduna, where he promised to address the challenges facing the college and to ensure that the institution achieved its mandate.
A statement by the chief information officer, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, on behalf of the ministry’s director of information, said the minister also visited the National Soil Fertility Testing Laboratory, Gonin Gora and the Federal College of Agriculture and Animal Science Mando, Kaduna where he urged the management and staff of the institutions to remain focused, promising better manpower training and funds for the various agencies under his leadership.