The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh has disclosed that plans are ongoing to restructure the Bank of Agriculture for better performance as the Federal Government steps up efforts to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy.
Ogbeh who disclosed this during an interactive forum on agriculture organised by the Justice Development and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church of the Assumption Ikoyi, Lagos explained that the restructuring would enable more funds to be allocated to the bank for effective discharge of its duties.
The Minister revealed that from next year, agriculture and agribusiness will witness a major turnaround in the country and farmers nationwide will have access to loans at single-digit interest rates.
“We are getting more money in next year’s budget. The target is to make agriculture more serious. But beyond the budget, we want to strengthen the BoA to the tune of N1tn from loans and whatever and bring down the interest rate to a maximum of seven per cent”, he said.
While stressing the readiness of the administration towards agriculture, Ogbeh said the government will also initiate a cocoa planting scheme in some states next year.
“We are launching the largest cocoa re-launch in our history. It will happen in February 2017 in Ondo State. The President will be there. The target is five million trees a year in 23 states,” he added.
The forum, tagged ‘Treasure in our Soil’ had in attendance the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Suarau Oluwatoyin, Professor Pat Utomi, and Engr. Emmanuel Ijewere, among other dignitaries.