The Federal Government is making plans to recover over N12 billion owed the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) by farmers.This is part of efforts to revive and recapitalise the bank, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said.
Ogbeh disclosed this while answering questions from journalists during a tour of the proposed agricultural industrial hub located in Kwail Area local council of Abuja.
The minister said that rice farmers across the country owed a greater sum of the N12 billion which was a part of over N40 billion currently being owed the bank.
“We are determined to pursue big-time farmers owing the BoA a huge sum of money, which is roughly about N12 billion and this was accumulated over the last 30 years. Peasants also owe N12 billion. There are other institutional debts which add up to N40 billion. But we know where they are and we will get them.
“The rice farmers association led by Aliko Mohammed Dangote visited my office recently. The farmers are about 11 million nationwide and he confessed to me that the bulk of the loans is owed by them and he said he had told them that they must repay on their own,” he said.
Ogbeh, however, pointed out that debtors would not be harassed as the Federal Government may likely consider waiving a reasonable amount of accumulated interest on the loans.
“We will soon put an advert out that some of those who took loans should please pay back. We are not going to harass them. We may consider reasonable interest waivers, but they have to return the money. The new bank that will emerge from what we are building now will be a different kind and not just a development bank which the BoA has been. It will be a quasi-commercial bank where every farmer will be a shareholder.”
The Managing Director of BoA, Danbala Danju commended the Buhari administration for its effort to revive the agriculture sector. He said agriculture had witnessed an increase in investment and promised that the BoA would recapitalise soon.