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FG Seeks Lending Rates Reduction By Banks To Farmers

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

agriculture.

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

population.

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

among others.

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.

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