Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has appealed to commercial banks to reduce their lending rates to farmers to spur the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
The minister made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja at a three-day conference on: “Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project’’ organised by International Food Policy Research Institute, Abuja.
Audu Ogbeh says the high interest rate being charged by commercial banks on loans to farmers is inimical to the growth and development of agriculture.
The minister pointed out that the government was committed to encourage youths participation in agriculture.
Ogbeh said some Nigerian youths had signified their interest to go back to the farm but the banks’ lending rate had become a cog in the wheel of actualising their decisions.
According to him, there is no way the interest rate of between 25 to 29 per cent could grow the economy and no farmer could survive the high interest rate.
“Some banks are saying that the lowest they can give is 25 per cent interest on their loans and no farmer can survive with this rate.
“The banks do not give consideration to the gestation period before they start the charges, this is a big challenge.
“Nigeria’s banks interest rates have been viewed as one of the highest in the world.
“There is no farmer that could survive the high interest rates, something needs to be done because it poses a big threat to food security and development of agriculture.’’