By Naomi Sharang
Abuja – The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, has said that poor credit facilities and high interest rate were bane of Nigeria’s agricultural development.
The minister made this known on Thursday at a meeting with the Senate Committee on Agriculture to review the performance of Ministry of Agriculture’s 2017 budget at the National Assembly.
He declared that some policies in the agriculture sector which required serious fine-tuning to put the nation’s agriculture back on track had not been given due attention.
Ogbeh told the committee that a major problem facing the agriculture sector was dearth of credit facilities for farmers.
He said that interest rates had become too high in the country that no farmer could afford to raise funds from banks.
“How would a farmer cope with 25 per cent to 30 per cent interest rates? The system disappoints the society because it does not make life easy.
“We risk having expatriates alone in agriculture business here because nobody can raise the kind of money needed to run a successful business in agriculture,” Ogbeh said.
He appealed to the Senate to amend the relevant laws to allow for the setting up of N500 billion Agriculture Funds to facilitate the revival of the nation’s agriculture.
The minister also asked the senate to make adjustments in the law to allow the ministry to facilitate exportation of yams and its derivatives to fetch foreign exchange for Nigeria.
On protecting agriculture products through subsidy, he said “this is still subject to further discussion because we have not been able to formulate policies on it.
“We have been talking about minimum price for farmers but this is only attainable if we can guarantee maximum output
“We need to introduce a new measure like kilos instead of bags, mudus,” he said.
The Chairman of the committee, Sen. Abddullahi Adamu, urged the minister to go back to the basics and work out how to join other countries in getting things right, particularly in terms of funding for agriculture.
The committee said it was worrisome that the 2017 budget for agriculture had not reached 20 per cent implementation.