Soil forms the bedrock upon which plants grow, but the effects of climate change and other destructive land practices like deforestation contribute to depletion of soil nutrients which inorganic fertilisers alone cannot substitute, thus significantly resulting to decline in yield of crops.
It is key to maintain a fertile and healthy soil in order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of crop failure.
Farmers to own 30% shares in Bank of Agric – Ogbeh
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) is restructuring the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) which will allow farmers to own 30 per cent shares of the bank.
The minister stated this during the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between SunTrust Bank and the Bank of Agriculture on Monday in Abuja.
Chief Ogbeh described the partnership between SunTrust and BOA as a welcome development since most commercial banks had been very allergic to lending to farmers, adding that agriculture in the last 30 years had suffered neglect.
Ogbeh noted that the high interest rates of 27 per cent being charged by some commercial banks made farming uninviting to many Nigerians.
He stressed that effort was underway to reduce interest rates of seven per cent, and that the ultimate goal was to reach five per cent, which was below global average of three per cent.
With the partnership, farmers across the country are to start enjoying better financial services through accessing agricultural loans from BOA through SunTrust Bank that will provide farmers with e-wallet and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards.
The minister recalled that farmers had been enjoying the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), while noting that the CBN could not act as a commercial bank for long.
The Managing Director of BOA, Mr. Kabiru Adamu, said the partnership had become necessary because the law restricted them from operating as a commercial bank, adding that they could not issue cheque books and ATM cards in their drive to changing the narrative of farmers who suffered because they did not have access to financial services.
“Farmers should be able to do business without any challenges. This is the era of e-business, so farmers with e-wallets and ATM cards can access our products,” he said.