Federal Government to Privatize Bank of Agriculture in Weeks

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…says Privatization give value to rural farmlands

From, Babatunde Azeez, Abuja

The Federal Government is set to partially privatize the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) in a few weeks.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,Chef Audu Ogbeh disclosed this during his address at the Nigeria rice investment forum organized by NEPAD today in Abuja.

Ogbeh who said the Bureau of Public Enterprise is concluding plans to privatize the bank, explained that 40 per cent of the Bank’s shares will be sold to farmers while the remaining shares will be shared between private sector investors, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He noted that the bank will be similar to the Bank of China which is the largest bank in the world, with over 800million clients and lend at 3 per cent interest rate, attributing it to why China can successfully feed their 1.4billion population.

According to him, privatization will help farmers determine the suitable loan rate, since they automatically become stakeholders after buying shares.

“With what we have achieved with the anchor borrowers program, we have decided to partially privatize the bank of agriculture and I will like you to take note of this, before the elections by the grace of God we should have rounded up the moves by the BPE to privatize the bank of Agriculture.

“40% will go to the farmers, please take note, adverts will be out in the next one week asking farmers and private sector operators to prepare to buy shares. The rest of the shares will be held by other private sector investors, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank but farmers will be the bulk of the shareholders, we are trying to build a farmers bank, similar to that of Bank of China which is the largest bank on planet Earth with 800million clients. They lend at 3% which is why they manage to field their self with a population of 1.4billion people.

“So farmers get ready to buy shares and own the bank, then at our AGMs we can discuss what interest rate to charge as long as we keep the bank alive, we shall be free from the outrageous interest rates.” He added.

The minister shared his understanding with banks who are reluctant to give loans to farmers as a result of bad experiences in the past with farmers who do not pay their debts.

He noted that privatization of the bank will avail farmers access to loans, thereby giving value to the lands that were originally not valuable to commercial banks.

He urged the farmers to look out for the adverts for sales of share which will commence in few weeks, in the social media, on the pages of newspapers and take advantage of the privatization to better the agricultural sector.

He emphasized that the move by the government will create more jobs at the rural areas and have more jobless people return from urban cities to practice farming since the village lands will be accepted by the Agric bank for loans.

“We understand the problems of the banks, we know that many of them are allergic to Agricultural lending; it is not their fault, they’ve had bad experiences in the past. So if they are reluctant to lend we understand, but somebody has to lend.

“So this is your chance and in particular women and youths many of your are interested in Agriculture but you don’t have the means to acquire lands to prepare your lands and invest, this is your opportunity and it is coming shortly. Get ready to buy shares no matter how small , once you become a shareholder you become a policy maker and we shall meet and take decisions because we have to feed this country and feed it well.” He added.

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