The President of Lagos State Catfish and Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria (LASCAFAN), Mr Babafemi Ajala has
requested that the government should make sure that the CBN N300 billion loan for famers is equally distributed
for even expansion of agricultural businesses across the Nation in an interview in Lagos recently.
Ajala noted that the loan, granted by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), would help to enhance agricultural
commercialisation and food sufficiency in the country, adding that finance is one of the major factors militating against
the sector, as agriculture is capital intensive.
It should be noted that the CBN had in December, 2015 announced a N300 billion financing to boost lending to
Agriculture and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME’s) this year. The apex bank Governor, Mr Godwin
Emefiele, said that the bankers had agreed that the value chains under agriculture needed to be `de-risked`, to
encourage large scale farming and boost productivity in the sector.
The president further explained that finance which is one of the major challenges in the agricultural sector induces the
cost of production to very high, so government intervention is needed to help farmers have access to affordable fund.
He however encourages all farmers to prepare themselves to access the N300 billion loans by the Federal
Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria, buttressing that the loan will relieve farmers of their financial
problem and there will be enough funds to inject into their projects.
Ajala who also sought for a reduction in the interest rate to enable farmers break even to a single digits rate,
reiterated that interest rate in Nigeria is at 18 to 20 per cent, in Ghana, the interest rate is about three per cent.
He said no farmer can survive in taking loan from commercial banks, government should assist by reducing interest
on loans. He also said that the other challenge facing farmers was the marketability of their products.
The LASCAFAN President bemoaned that gap created by the low production of fish locally allows for importation,
adding that If there are off-takers (people and government) who can buy off farmers’ produce as soon as they are
harvested, it will help them a great deal.
Ajala recalled that in the past, before fish culturing commenced, fishing was usually done on high sea, now there are
various types of culturing, there is now increase in the production level.
“What we consume is more than what we produce and this has given room for importation, government should,
therefore, intervene to solve the problem of the marketing,’’ Ajala said.