Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has
appealed to commercial banks to reduce their lending rates to farmers
to spur the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja at a three-day
conference on: “Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project’’
organised by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI),
Abuja, Ogbeh said the high interest rate being charged by commercial banks on
loans to farmers is inimical to the growth and development of
The minister pointed out that the government was committed to
encourage youths’ participation in agriculture.
Ogbeh said some Nigerian youths had signified their interest to go
back to the farm but the banks’ lending rate had become a cog in the
wheel of actualising their decisions.
According to him, there is no way the interest rate of between 25 to
29 per cent could grow the economy and no farmer could survive the
high interest rate.
“Some banks are saying that the lowest they can give is 25 per cent
interest on their loans and no farmer can survive with this rate.
“The banks do not give consideration to the gestation period before
they start the charges, this is a big challenge.
“Nigeria’s banks interest rates have been viewed as one of the highest
in the world.
“There is no farmer that could survive the high interest rates,
something needs to be done because it poses a big threat to food
security and development of agriculture.’’
The minister said government was committed to the development of
agriculture as part of the determination to feed the growing
To this end, the Federal Government was determined to provide more
mechanized farming inputs to farmers in the country to boost food
production, he said.
The minister said government was committed to encourage youths to
venture into modernizing agriculture by using mechanized farming
inputs such as machines for planting, spraying, tilling and harvesting
Also, Prof. Titus Awokuse, Department of Agriculture, Food and
Resource Economy, Michigan State University, U.S. said the university
and the department had worked in partnership with research and
teaching institutions in West Africa for 50 years.
Awokuse, who is the Chairman of the occasion, said the institution
would continue to work towards the development of agriculture in
Nigeria and African countries.
Chief of the project, Head of IFPRI Nigeria
Office, Dr George Mavrotas, noted that IFPRI work centres around six strategic research areas with gender as cross cutting theme.
According to him, IFPRI is working to ensure sustainable food
production by enhancing groundwater governance, promoting healthy food
system, improving markets and trade, building resilience and
strengthening institutions and governance.
Mavrotas said IFPRI would always do its best to ensure adequate policy
for the development of the Nigerian agriculture.
He said this had become imperative because through adequate policies
and research programme, food systems could be strengthened to better
serve the interest of smallholder farmers and the poor consumers.
Participants at the conference were drawn from various sectors of
agriculture to deliberate on food security, nutrition challenges, food
system transformation, and climate change among others.