The Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh has appealed the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reduce lending rate to farmers as obtainable in other parts of the world where agriculture is thriving.
Ogbeh made the appeal at the 2017 Annual Bankers’ Committee Retreat concluded in Lagos at the weekend.
Ogbeh disclosed that the average interest rate charged on agriculture loans worldwide is 3.5 per cent adding that Nigeria’s nine per cent is fine, but could be lower.
“We could have it (interest rate) lower because when we meet farmers from Brazil, China, Uruguay, and United States, the average lending rate to agriculture is 3.5 per cent. In some places like Japan, there was a time it was zero. So, we would like to see it lower. If it is lower, it will become more attractive,” Ogbeh said.
He also said there was need to bring more young people into mechanised farming because the generation of farmers are now 60 years old on the average. “In another two to four years, they cannot do much. If young people do not come on board, with mechanisation and lower interest rate, this country will starve and we do not want that to happen,” he said.
Also speaking CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said Nigeria’s economy needs to grow by six or seven per cent for it to have greater impact on the lives of the people.
He spoke on the theme: Improving Financial Access, Job Creation and Inclusive Growth in Nigeria. He said growth must be achieved at six or seven per cent for people to feel the impact and reduce poverty rate.
Emefiele said that after five quarters of continuous contraction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), beginning from first quarter of 2016, the economy recorded a positive growth of 1.5 per cent in third quarter of this year, signaling an exit from the recession.
But he said the growth figure is still low and that higher growth is needed to tackle unemployment, create more jobs and other issues.
He said creating a more financially inclusive society is seen as the viable path towards sustainable economic growth.