The Bank of Agriculture (BOI) says it has injected more than N9 billion into the South East to stimulate agriculture in line with Federal Government programme.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu, the Managing Director of the bank, Mr Kabiru Mohammed said the move was part of efforts to diversify the economy and attain food security.
Mohammed said that the bank had the mandate of providing agricultural credit and non-agricultural micro-credit with a view to curbing poverty.
He, however, said that the amount so far disbursed in the zone fell below the expected target for the region considering the abundant opportunities in the area.
“Our bank and its stakeholders are making concerted efforts to curb all known challenges to agro-entrepreneurship to widen the space for more participation,” he said.
Kabiru said that most of their credit facilities were directed at women whom he said had suffered from neglect, chronic under investment and regional protectionism.
“We know that lots of women in the rural areas are involved in agriculture but presently not being taken care of.
“They are poorly served by infrastructure, financial systems, scientific innovations or access to market and the results are reflected in poor levels of productivity.
“Our intention is to make sure our activities extend to them,” he said.
The managing director said that with effects of climate change and expected upsurge in the country’s population by the year 2050, all hands must be on deck to help safeguard the future of the people.
Kabiru said that the bank desired to partner with state governments in the zone with a view to exploiting the huge potentials in the area.
“The South East is blessed with good land for the cultivation of tree crops like oil palm, rubber, cashew, roots and tuber crops with abundant water bodies capable of sustaining viable aquaculture,” he said.
He appealed to governors in the zone to revitalize the moribund oil palm plantations and processing plants in the zone.
Kabiru said that such agencies as the Ada Palm in Imo, Okomu Oil as well as the Imo Rubber and National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) had relationship with the bank.
“As the leading agricultural development finance institution in Nigeria, the bank is ready to offer its expertise, experience and technical capabilities to support the region in its quest for diversification,” Kabiru said.
The Executive Director of the bank, Dr Gabriel Okenwa commended efforts of the Federal Government through the ministry of agriculture.
“We will complement what the federal government is doing from our standpoint.
“Nigerians are very hardworking and resilient people and with the strategic re-focusing in agriculture all hands should be on deck.
“We will produce enough food for our people to feed and have a lot more to export in the very shortest possible time,” Okenwa said.
NAN reports that of the amount so far disbursed to farmers in the region Abia got N1.5 billion; Anambra got N3.3billion while Ebonyi received N577.888 million.
Similarly, Enugu secured N1.7 billion while Imo had N2 billion.
NAN further reports that the management of the BOI had during the last meeting of the South East governors’ forum made a presentation on the activities of the bank in the region and efforts to explore areas the zone had comparative advantage. (NAN)