The federal government plans to pump N3trillion into the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) with the aim of making farmers have access to fund at an affordable interest rate.

According to the government, access to funding remained one of the biggest challenges facing farmers in the country.

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri‎ disclosed this in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital during the inaugural harvest of a Tillapia fish farm of Premium Aquaculture Limited, Oyan Dam.

 He said commercial banks were not ready to fund agriculture, hence the decision by the federal government to recapitalise BOA was to facilitate the diversification of the country’s economy to agriculture.

He therefore, disclosed that the nation’s fish demand stood at 3.1 metric tonnes per annum but currently hovering around 1.1 metric tonnes per annum, leaving a deficit of 2.1 metric tonnes.

According to him, the government resorted to backward integration to encourage local fish farmers and bridge the gap between demand and supply.

He said: “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.”

However, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who was a guest at the event, appealed to the federal government to create an enabling environment for investors in agriculture to thrive in the country.

While speaking on his personal project on zero hunger by 2025, Obasanjo 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 in his remark, said the company intended to produce more than 20,000 metric tonnes of fish locally in the next five years.

He said: “The project site at Oyan dam, Abeokuta has 100 cages under operation and another 100 cages are under fabrication. The installation would be completed later this year.”

He noted that Hatchery facility adjacent to the cage site has a capacity to produce 12 million fingerlings per annum that can supply half of the country’s present tilapia fingerlings requirement.

“The company is not only investing in fish production but also conducting training programs for fresh fishery graduates as well as small scale fish farmers across the country, which is helping them to produce the fish cost effectively”, he stressed.

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