From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Bank of Agriculture (BoA) says it is targeting about 15 million smallholder rice farmers in the next two years, the bank’s Managing Director, Kabir Adamu, has said.
Speaking while playing host to the Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, during a working visit to BoA headquarters in Abuja, Adamu disclosed that the bank was partnering relevant agencies to open branches in all local government areas of the federation to enable it meet the target.
He appealed to corporate Nigeria to partner the bank in the area of funding in line with global best practices and in the spirit of patriotism.
He, however, lamented that the programme, aimed at availing smallholder farmers with agricultural loan and inputs, was confronted with non-performing loans (NPLs) because of poor understanding of the programme by farmers.
He stressed that their loans to farmers were not gifts, hence the need for prompt and adequate repayment in order to facilitate access to loans by other farmers. He noted however, that the bank’s NPLs were below 10 per cent, which was far better than the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) standard of 70 per cent.
In his remarks, Director General of NOA, said government had shown the necessary political will to reposition agriculture through its pragmatic policy direction in the sector.
He, however, noted that there was need for robust public enlightenment on the various government policies if the policies are to be effectively implemented, pledging to utilise the agency’s platforms around the country to sensitise Nigerians, especially smallholder farmers, on the scope and workings of the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme. A partnership between the two agencies is expected to deepen public sensitisation on the Anchor Borrowers’ policy for better results in the agriculture sector of the economy.