The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has declared that the country’s commercial banks are not ready to fund agriculture any longer in the country.
The minister, who made this known at the inaugural harvest of Tilapia fish farm owned by Premium Aquaculture Limited, Oyan Dam in Abeokuta, Ogun State, noted that it was glaring that commercial banks were not ready to fund agriculture, hence the decision by the FG to recapitalize BoA to facilitate the diversification of the country’s economy to agriculture.
The minister, who commended the growth in fish farming, disclosed that the nation’s fish demand which stood at 3.1 metric tonnes per annum was currently hovering around 1.1 metric tonnes per annum, leaving a deficit of 2.1 metric tones.
He said the government resorted to backward integration and encouraged local fish farmers, to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
“When this administration came on board, the supply was around 800,000 metric tonnes per annum, but due to government policy on fishery by the ministry of agriculture, the country is now doing 1.1 metric tonnes per annum.
“Fish is the cheapest source of protein for Nigerians, the challenge is not only meeting the Nigerians demand, but also that of West Africa. People even come from North Africa to buy fish and grains in Nigeria,” he said.
He, however, commended the company and others that have contributed immensely to local fish production, urging Nigerians to embrace agriculture, particularly fish farming as both the rich and the poor needed food to survive.
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was a guest at the event, emphasized that government should create enabling environment for investors in agriculture to thrive in the country.
Obasanjo, who revealed he had a personal project on zero hunger by 2025, called on the company to encourage out growers, to ease transfer of technology and create employment opportunities for the youth.
The company’s Farm Manager, Mr. Govin Daraju, said the company intended to produce more than 20,000 metric tonnes of fish locally in the next five years.