As part of efforts to ease access to funds for farmers at affordable rates, the Federal Government will recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture with N1 trillion.
This is was disclosed by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, on Monday at the inaugural harvest of a tilapia fish farm in Oyan dam, Abeokuta owned by Premium Aquaculture Limited.
Lokpobiri expressed that access to funding remained one of the biggest challenges being faced by farmers in the country.
Lokpobiri lamented that commercial banks were not ready to fund agriculture, hence the decision by the Federal Government to recapitalise the bank in order to boost the agricultural sector.
The minister said the nation’s fish demand stood at 3.1 metric tonnes per annum, but the current production was around 1.1 metric tonnes per annum, leaving a deficit of 2.1 metric tonnes.
He said the government resorted to backward integration by encouraging local fish farmers to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
Lokpobiri stated, “When this administration came on board, the supply was around 800,000 metric tonnes per annum, but due to government policy on fishery by the Ministry of Agriculture, the country is now doing 1.1 metric tonnes per annum.
“Fish is the cheapest source of protein for Nigerians; the challenge is not only meeting Nigerians’ demand, but also that of West Africa. People even come from North Africa to buy fish and grains in Nigeria” he said.
He, however, applauded the company for its immense contribution to local fish production, and urged Nigerians to embrace agriculture and fish farming.
Meanwhile, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, urged the government to create an enabling environment for investors in agriculture to thrive in the country.
Obasanjo who was a special guest at the event, called on the company to encourage out growers to ease the transfer of technology and create employment opportunities for the youth.
According to him, “Your work will be much more appreciated if you can make what I call out growers’ employment generation and wealth creation for our youth, not only in Ogun State but throughout the country.”