The Federal Government has constituted a 21-man steering committee to restructure and recapitalize the Bank of Agriculture (BoA).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, inaugurating the committee in Abuja on Monday, urged it to work within time to achieve its purpose.
He said the restructuring was aimed at revitalizing the bank’s operations to make it more responsive to its mandate.
Osinbajo, represented by Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the restructuring, would strengthen the bank as a platform for providing loans to Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) farmers and cooperatives among others.
He said the approach was a pre-privatization strategy preferred by the Federal Government for the injection of financial and other requisite resources into the bank.
“It is noteworthy that in its over 20 years of existence, the BoA has faced a myriad of challenges which include, poor funding, poor stakeholder buy-in, particularly Federal Government agencies, and erosion of stakeholders funds.
Ogbeh, also the chairman of the committee, said the committee would commence the restructuring with N500 billion and work within time to actualize its goal.
The minister said the committee would give the bank a face-lift, and consider staffing issues and electronic improvement while working in every community nationwide to provide credits to SMEs and to farmers.
Ogbeh said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would hand over the anchor borrowers programme (ABP) to the bank after the restructuring to finance agricultural projects.
“There will be a better-run and financed BOA so that the interest rate will be easily accommodated by farmers. We will recover some of the credits owed by farmers because some of them have offered to pay,’’ the minister said.
Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor and a member of the committee, described its ABP which started in 2016 as `a success’.
He expressed optimism that the committee would ensure that the BOA achieved its aims and objectives in a very short time.
According to him, the loans that are currently given to farmers through the ABP attracts single digit interest.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture is asking us to reduce the interest rate to about nine per cent to enable farmers to buy inputs, go to the farm, make a living and feed the country,’’ Emefiele said. T
he Managing Director of BOA, Prof. Danbala Danju, commended the Federal Government for its initiative to restructure the bank.
He expressed regret over the bad and non-repayment attitude of farmers after collecting funds from the Bank.
Danju said the bank was targeting single-digit interest rate on loans to farmers by the end of the restructuring.
The managing director said the Bank would work with the private sector and the international development agencies to actualize their set target
“The Bank needs to be recapitalized to energize the agriculture sector in line with best practices all over the world.
“We expect a restructuring plan that will look at our operating model, human resources, and the entire business plan so that agriculture will be properly financed in Nigeria.
“Agriculture has been under-funded and the key challenge is how to source the fund so that we can assist farmers.
“The key challenge now is how we can reconstitute ourselves to properly identify farmers and ensure that when farmers are given loans and support, they pay back,’’ Danju explained.