It is going to be a race towards mechanised farming come 2017 as the Bank of Industry (BOI) has set aside a total of N10 billion to support the acquisition of agro-equipment to encourage agricultural service providers and farmers explore the benefits of modern farming in Nigeria.
This was announced in Abuja Wednesday, December 14, by acting Managing Director of BOI, Waheed Olagunju, at the signing of an MoU with development partners on agro-mechanisation programme. According to him, the agricultural sector which was the largest employer of informal labour, will receive the much needed attention.
“We have tried in the Bank Of Industry in recent times to come up with various projects in support of agriculture, one of them is the cottage and agro-processing fund which is a N5 billion fund.
“We also have the fish farming and processing programme, which is a N1billion fund and then the animal and fishery programme, which is also a N1 billion fund.
“The agro-mechanisation fund is N10 billion, which shows that we are according a lot of attention to agriculture, because our industrialization must be driven by the agricultural sector.”
With the earmarked fund, practitioners in the Agric sector can have enough access to acquire agro-equipment so as to speed up efficiency and productivity in the agricultural sector.
The BOI director explained that the fund would be provided as loan and would be executed by various international development partners involved with promoting the nation’s agriculture. As for the interest rate, Olagunju added beneficiaries and agricultural service providers would attract 9 percent with a maximum tenure of five years.
He noted that such a huge amount set aside for developing of agro-mechanisation was an indication of its importance to the economic development of the country. Stating further, the director said potential applicants under the programme will be categorised into three groups: micro, small and medium businesses.
“The agro-business micro category would be funded with N10 million, while the small category of businesses would have access to more than N10 million, but not exceeding N50 million.
“Also, the medium scale agro-business operators would have access to initial N50 million, but not exceeding N500million. The agro-funding programme was expected to create about 10,000 direct jobs and about 30,000 indirect jobs in the country.”
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Report from Business Day showed the International development partners collaborating with the BOI to drive the agro-mechanisation programme include the Nigeria Incentive-based risk sharing system for agricultural lending (NIRSAL); PROPCOM MAI-KARFI, a programme funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID); and Growth and Employment in States.