The African Development Bank (AfDB) has issued one million dollar grant to the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) to restructure and strengthen its capacity in responding to emerging challenges. Kabiru Adamu, CEO, Bank of Agriculture, who disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, said the bank is working to recover the N60 billion owed it by farmers. He said that the lifeline would re-engineer the bank to be more efficient and carry out its mandate for the benefit of farmers and the nation.
The CEO said the intervention by AfDB was timely as the new BOA executives had inherited a lot of liabilities due largely to the failure of farmers to repay loans granted them. “My team inherited a lot of liability from the previous management of BOA, a lot was done to clean their books and recover so many loans and the loan recovery exercise is still ongoing. “Most of the beneficiaries are not willing to pay back the loan because they are seeing it as a national cake, but the bank will make all efforts to recover all the money disbursed as loan to farmers. “The team has just finalised the 2016 outstanding accounts and work has commenced on the 2017 accounts, even at this a lot still needs to be done to ensure a clean book,’’ he said. The CEO said the bank has strengthened its risk framework in a way that farmers won’t just access loans freely as before due to adequate monitoring and constant evaluation. “BOA officials are always with the farmers now unlike before to avoid diversion of funds and this will make farming a profitable venture for the farmers and they will repay the loan. “BOA is concerned in developing the new agenda that will ensure food security, job creation, replace the ageing farmers and make agriculture more attractive,” he said. Adamu stressed that reinvigorating the bank would boost the nation’s economy as it would facilitate provision of raw materials needed by the manufacturing sector.
“Considering the nations teaming population and unemployment, under the agriculture revolution more land will be cultivated as Nigeria has over 80 per cent arable land but unfortunately less than 40 per cent of the land is cultivated,’’ he said. The CEO said BOA is into strategic collaborations with major stakeholders in the industry aimed at creating more jobs for the teeming youths and equip farmers for sustainable agricultural development. He said the partnership included that with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending to reinvigorate MSMEs, adding that it involves risk-sharing arrangements.
The CEO added that the bank had also partnered the Development Bank of Nigeria to secure more funding for MSMEs to stimulate necessary growth in the Agricultural sector. Adamu added that the BOA had signed an e-banking agreement with the SunTrust Bank using its existing 140 branches in the country to reach its farmer customers. “The bank will also provide Mobile Money Service, Merchant and Settlement Accounts for e-transaction, deploy its innovative banking services and other complimentary e-banking services to simplify BOA services to its over one million farmers.” He said that the latest of such partnerships was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with 30 business executives and officials from Germany on Tuesday. On support to farmers this cropping season, Adamu said adequate funds and other facilities would be granted to over 2.5 million farmers. He said already, data capturing and farm inspection for the participating farmers had been completed and the loan disbursement would commence soon. Adamu added that input suppliers have since commenced the supply of inputs and certified seeds to farmers. NAN reports that BOA, Nigeria’s foremost agricultural and rural development finance institution, was incorporated in 1972 as Nigerian Agricultural Bank before it transformed into the Bank of Agriculture Limited in October 2010. It is wholly owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria with 40 per cent of its shares held by Central Bank of Nigeria and 60 per cent by the Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated. As reported by Tribune Online.