LAGOS – A finance consultant, Mrs Olubunmi Lawson, on Sunday, called for increased lending to farmers in order to mitigate the effects of the dwindling fortune of crude oil.
Lawson, who made this call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, said the sole dependence on oil as a major source of earning, was dangerous to the country’s economy.
She observed that government had based its 2014 budget on an oil price of $77.50 a barrel and a daily output of 2.39 million barrels.
“It has also submitted a budget benchmark of $78 a barrel for 2015 to the National Assembly under its 2015-2017 Medium Term Economic Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP)
. “This is an indication that our revenue from oil is on the decline,” she noted.
According to International Energy Agency (IEA) on Friday, oil prices are expected to keep sliding well into 2015, held down by weak demand.
“This report also maintains its full-year forecast for slow global consumption growth” Lawson asserted.
Lawson said that Nigeria, being Africa’s biggest economy and also the most populous nation, should not rely on oil for 70 per cent of government revenue and 95 per cent of export earnings.
She argued that agricultural sector needed to be expanded to also become a major source of earnings.
Lawson, who is the Managing Director of ACCION Microfinance bank, noted that commercial bank lending had been on the decline for a decade.
She argued that the microfinance banking sector needed to grab emerging opportunities and increase the loan portfolios to farmers, to protect the country from economic crisis.
“Microfinance banks should concentrate on lending more to farmers before considering other entrepreneurs, so as to boost cultivation and increase the country’s earnings.
“The banks henceforth should start extending micro agriculture loans to crop, fish, pig and poultry farmers, among others,” she said.
She argued that with the fall in the benchmark of crude oil to S78, this country needed to return to farming.
“The drastic fall of oil prices should make us tighten our belt and concentrate more on our micro economy, empowering of entrepreneurs, especially women and farmers,” she said.
She expressed the hope that micro loans to farmers, would increase by 2015. (NAN).