FG commends CBN’s decision on 5% bank profits to agriculture

The Federal Government has commended the decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria to set aside five per cent profit of banks to finance agriculture and non-oil exports.

Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, gave the commendation when members of the Tractors Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria visited him in Abuja on Friday.

The minister said the money which would amount to N25 billion per annum would go a long way to ensure adequate food supply to the populace.

According to him, a good portion of the money will go into the procurement of tractors to assist farmers in food production.

Ogbeh said: “Our dream is that in the next few years, we should have an upward number of about one million tractors.

“Our job is to help farmers prepare their lands by removing storms and rocks.

“It is not cheap to do this especially in the south, because the forests are thick but we are going to buy bulldozers.

“It will save the country from the difficulties we face in food production.’’

Ogbeh disclosed that the government would partner with Brazil in a programme known as ‘More Food’, to supply farm machinery at a long-term credit with very low interests.

He said the programme would also consider the supply of spare parts for the machinery to avoid reoccurring cases of constant damages on tractors.

The minister said that the government was working assiduously with the CBN to bring down the interest rates on agriculture to a single digit.

Ogbeh said that the high cost of food was a major contributor to inflation in the country.

On the outstanding N30 billion owed agro-dealers under the Growth Enhancement Support scheme, Ogbeh assured them that the government would pay the debt.

He said: “The outstanding debt on the GES programme was N67 billion when we came in, which is twice our entire budget of last year.

“The state governments refused to pay their 25 per cent subsidy.

“We paid 20 billion last year but we started screening their accounts and we found out that close to N27 billion was padded up.

“We have about N30 billion left to pay now and we have made the request, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, is trying to find the money for us to pay the balance on seeds and chemicals.

“That is why seed farmers cannot deliver seeds to us this season.”

Earlier, Elesa Yakubu, the President of TOOAN, appealed for the support and collaboration with the Federal Government in the provision and management of tractors.

Yakubu called for the development of a mechanisation policy to streamline tractors imported into the country.

According to him, the government must support local manufacturing and ensure sustainable funding arrangement for them to encourage manufacturers.

Yakubu said: “We have three sources of securing tractors for our members from commercial banks at prevailing lending rates, federal and state governments at their terms and conditions and private sector. We need to be encouraged.”

 

Source: Today.ng

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