The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, says repositioning of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) was non-negotiable.
A statement issued by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, Chief Information Officer in the ministry of Agriculture, in Abuja, said that the minister made this known during his familiarisation tour to some Agricultural institutions in Kaduna State, on Friday.
Abubakar said repositioning the bank would improve access to grants by smallholder farmers, boost food production and generate revenues for the country.
He reassured of the Federal Government’s commitment to its diversification plan, through agriculture, saying that the plan aimed at boosting nutrition and food security, increase the local farmers’ income and creating more jobs for Nigerian farmers.
The minister noted that as a development financial institution in the Agriculture sector, BOA was to provide agriculture and rural financing for smallholder farmers so as to “simulate improvements in their lives and growth across farming communities.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is very passionate about the need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow, so as to de-emphasise unnecessary importation of food, which constitutes a drain on our foreign exchange,” he said.
Abubakar disclosed the ongoing plans by the ministry, in collaboration with the Central bank of Nigeria, to streamline loans to smallholder farmers for proper utilisation, more effective production and provision of efficient services to Nigerian farmers, across the various value chains.
He pledged that the Ministry, under his watch, would ensure that the BOA obtained a licence to operate maximally and deliver services based on its core objectives and mandate.
Abubakar said that the diversification agenda of the present Administration was one of the cardinal policies aimed at achieving nutrition and food security, reducing poverty and improving Agribusiness in the sector.
In his remarks, the Acting Managing Director, Bank of Agriculture, Alhaji Alwan Hassan, appealed for the completion of the restructuring and recapitalisation of the Bank as approved by the shareholders on Aug. 18.
He cited, in particular, the area of 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 Cassava Bread Initiative Fund loan component, as well as the Agricultural Mechanization Intervention outstanding loan.
” Repositioning the Bank to achieve its mandate and impact on growth of Agriculture in the country will increase food production and ensure food security, while at the same time improving the lives of farming communities,” he said.