By Obinna Chima
Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) has once more given assurance to support the rapid development of the agricultural sector.
The Bankers’ Committee's Sub-Committee on Economic Development, which said this in a statement at the end of a special meeting in Lagos at the weekend, said it would continue to increase financing for the agric sector to ensure sustainable growth and development.
The meeting also had in attendance, top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders. Several issues were discussed and far-reaching decisions taken to derisk the agricultural sector and make it a profitable sector for bank financing.
The theme of the meeting was: “The Role of the Nigerian Financial Sector in Enabling the Agriculture Industry in Nigeria.”
The CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and banks' chief executive officers, expressed commitment to the agricultural sector growth.
They reiterated that since 2009, lending to the agricultural sector, which used to be only 1.52 per cent of total bank lending then had increased to 3.53 per cent as at last year.
It was also agreed that to ensure that the year-on-year lending target to the sector is achieved, there was need to understand progress made so far in the agriculture value chain, identify commercial opportunities within the value chain, address risk issues associated with the sector and align with the Ministry of Agriculture on key priorities for the sector in 2013 and beyond.
The statement added: "Bankers’ Committee members emphasised the need for ongoing collaboration with key players in the agriculture value chain to achieve increased lending to the sector. "The banking sector will continue to engage the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to strategise on ways to boost lending to the value chains to ensure sustainable growth."
According to the statement, presentations were taken from eleven value chain leads focusing on cassava, rice, sorghum, and cotton. Others were cocoa, oil palm, maize, soya bean and leather. There were also presentations on poultry, beef and horticulture.
The various presentations discussed the financial viability of the value chains, investments required to achieve sustainable growth and commercial opportunities for banks.