Vice President Namadi Sambo
•Approves privatisation of BoA
Muhammad Bello and James Emejo
Vice President Namadi Sambo said Thursday that the federal government had approved the sum of N15 billion for disbursement to farmers for the 2013 farming season through the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) at single digit interest rate.
He also disclosed that the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) had been granted approval by President Goodluck Jonathan to privatise the BoA with the aim of unbundling it, so as to provide cheaper funds for agriculture and also to allow other investors to participate in the sector.
Speaking in Abuja at the close of the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) tagged: "Growing Agriculture as Business to Diversify Nigeria's Economy", the Namadi said the government was committed to making the agricultural sector more attractive to investors.
Sambo also said the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was working to establish the Nigeria Development Bank to allow for access to long-term funding for infrastructure development at low interest rates in the country.
He said the federal government had succeeded in ending decades of corruption in agriculture as over 3.5 million small scale farmers across the country had received fertilisers and seeds this year via an innovative mobile phone technology.
Sambo said the government would continue to work hard to improve efficiency and eliminate corruption where it exists in the system.
The vice president said the summit had proven to be a landmark event in the country adding that agriculture as a business would never remain the same after this summit.
He added efforts were ongoing to address all bottlenecks to allow for the growth and development of agriculture.
He further noted the planned multi-billion naira investment in fertiliser by Dangote Group would boost fertiliser manufacturing and turn Nigeria into one of the largest fertiliser producers in the world.
Sambo said to grow the agricultural sector, government must improve infrastructure by expanding investment in irrigation system to ensure that farmers can produce all year-round.
He said: “The face of agriculture has changed in this country, and it is refreshing. Agriculture is no longer a development programme.
Agriculture is now a business. In the transformation of our agriculture, we are taking the full value chain approach, from the farm to the table.
“As we grow agriculture, non-farm income and employment opportunities will develop, through multiplier effects in the local economy.”
He said government would also continue to accelerate the construction and rehabilitation of roads and railways to ease the movement of farm produce from the rural to urban areas.
He said power supply had become inevitable if the country must succeed in agriculture.
He noted government efforts in ongoing power privatisation would soon be successfully concluded to provide significant improvement in power supply.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr, while presenting a summary report of the Summit, stressed that in order to realise the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the federal government, there was need for linkages across all sectors of the economy.
He also said the Summit had proposed the renaming of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture Business to reflect the new thinking of government.