The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has criticized the nine percent interest rate on agricultural loans given to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), describing it as outrageous.
Ogbeh, who spoke at the second conference of the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project yesterday in Abuja, said the growth in the agricultural sector could not be sustained with the 25percent or nine percent interest rate
He wondered how possible for the economy to grow on the back of such interest rate that has lasted for over three decades.
“What can you produce at 25percent or even nine pecent interest rate? Why do we ask why poverty is increasing, why the private sector cannot grow, the economy cannot grow?” he queried.
The minister stated that monetary policy makers must not be allowed to have the final word on the nation’s interest rate.
“The current trend cannot sustain the country’s growth and interest rate cannot remain at 25percent or nine percent and sustain growth in agriculture.”
According to Ogbeh, “Agriculture in the last 15 years has received only three percent of bad lending as 430 Nigerians account for N4.3trillion in debt currently held by AMCON.
About 60million farmers have only received three percent.
“Business owners can get N250million loan to run an airline, but its difficult for an average farmer to get N250,000 to start his farm.”
The minister described farmers as volunteered slave workers.
“ This is because if they are to cost the amount of labour spent on food production, we would not be able to buy.
But since government is teaching the farmers to cost their labour, Nigerians should not complain about food prices.”
To him, the only way out is for government to intervene by supporting agriculture, as being done in other countries.