The Federal Government has called on commercial banks to tap into the growing agricultural sector by providing the estimated sum of N3 trillion credit facilities needed to financially empower about 760,000 young farmers in 2013.

Speaking at a day workshop on ‘Financing Nigeria’s Agricultural Revolution,’ Akinwunmi Adesina, minister of agriculture and rural development, said the N3 trillion financial requirements will not only make the nation’s agro-business very competitive and efficient, but will also generate an estimated interest income of N4 billion for commercial banks in one year.

“There is a rapid aging population in the agricultural sector, therefore we need to change the labour composition of the sector towards making the sector more competitive. This is why the Federal Government in the first quarter of 2013 will launch an agricultural empowerment programme for close to 760,000 young farmers, who will be given access to land, fund, technical and business know-how needed to unlock the opportunities and potential in the nation’s agro-business,” the minister said.

According to him, “Nigeria’s agricultural sector needs affordable funds that is why Nigerian banks need to be innovative and proactive in increasing their agricultural portfolios by ensuring a single-digit interest rate financing options for farmers. We need to also look for a new way of making sure that farmers secure long-term financing pattern.”

Listing other financing options available for Nigerian farmers, he said the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and pension fund need to invest on financial bonds that can drive agro-business, as “agricultural businesses can also take advantage of capital market, public equity fund to unlock the potential and make Nigeria an agric industrialised country.

The minster however added that the nation’s agric sector, “which has the potential as well as the capacity of adding 8.1 million metric tons of food requirement to domestic consumption in 2012, can also grow its capacity to over 20 million metric tons in 2015 if government creates an enabling environment that will encourage public private partnership in agricultural financing.”

While presenting her welcome address, Arunma Oteh, director-general, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), organiser of the event, said Nigeria’s agric sector, which holds 40 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), was currently witnessing a revolution due to the transformation agenda of the present administration.

According to her, Nigeria needs to reduce her dependence on importation of food items so as to be able to create jobs for youths and also generate wealth from export of her domestic grown crops.

The SEC boss, who said the agro-business stocks was currently among the best performing stocks in the capital market, further encouraged more agro-businesses to list on the floor of the stock exchange to rise fund for agric financing.

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