FirstBank of Nigeria Limited has called on farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to avail themselves of the available agricultural financing solutions it offers to ensure the growth of the sector.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, made this call at the bank’s third Agricultural Exhibition themed “Agricultural Value Chain: Spotlighting Opportunities and Managing Risks” in Lagos at the weekend.
Adeduntan said that the bank had in the past 125 years of operation focused on financing agricultural development and supporting the growth of agri-businesses in the country.
His said, “Agricultural financing has been and still is a core part of our business in FirstBank today. This is First Bank’s 125th year. It is worthy of note that we commenced operations with a major strategic focus on financing agriculture development as well as enabling farmers and agro-businesses. We are, therefore, celebrating 125 years of supporting agriculture and agribusiness development in Nigeria.”
While appreciating the imperative of the extensive agricultural value chain, the position of the agriculture sector as a major contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, employment and import substitution and its ability to eradicate hunger and poverty, Adeduntan said First Bank had supported several state governments on the agricultural development Trust Fund Scheme.
The TFS, according to him, is an initiative designed to provide credit facilities to small-scale farmers who would otherwise be constrained by the lack of collaterals.
“We are partnering a good number of states on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Accelerated AgricDevelopment Scheme. Notably, we have disbursed more than N40bn under the CBN’s Paddy Aggregation Scheme,” he added.
Under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, the Federal Government and CBN initiative designed to provide long-tenured credit facilities to commercial agricultural enterprises at the single-digit interest rate, he said the bank had supported 118 projects (over 23 per cent) of the total of 509 projects by all the banks put together.
Under the initiative, he said the bank has disbursed over N100bn for the project spread across input supplies, primary production, processing and marketing to obligors which include small, medium and large-scale enterprises in the agricultural value chain.
He added that the bank was supporting research and development through the endowment of professorial chairs in agriculture in some Nigerian universities.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono, said the Federal Government was working to review agricultural policies to strengthen the value chain, while tackling poverty and unemployment in the country.
Nanono, however, noted that apart from government’s resolve to review agricultural policies to make them friendlier, other focus of the government would be on local agri-business development, responsible agriculture investment, education and mechanisation.
According to him, the country needs a formidable agriculture sector to eradicate poverty, achieve good health and general wellbeing of the citizenry.
“The agric ministry would partner relevant stakeholders to transform the sector to boost production and employment that would enhance the agricultural transformation, which he said was key to achieving sustainable growth and development in Nigeria,” he said.
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