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By Crusoe Osagie
Oceanic Bank Plc has announced plans to raise its funding portfolio for agriculture and agro allied businesses from the present N40billion to about N60 billion in the next few years
The Head of Agro Allied and Exports in the Corporate Banking Group, Eyitayo Quadri, explained that the initiative is to take the nation’s agricultural sector back to the days when the sector used to contribute about 70 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He stated this while addressing the media in Lagos, adding that the Bank had already given out loans to some agricultural institution worth more than N40 billion from 2006 to date with a plan to grow the portfolio between the region of N15 to N20 billion in the next few years.
“We are looking at growing that portfolio between the region of N15 to 20 billion additional investment to what is on ground. We have financed some agricultural institutions and after paying back, we finance other institutions. Since 2006, we have had a portfolio of N40 billion,” he said.
“We have about N40 billion already given out to different agric organisations. What we have earmarked this year is to grow that portfolio if we get the right kind of agricultural organisations to finance. We have started work on that and we are looking for different categories of agric institutions across the country that we can finance through our own fund and the fund that would be made available by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),’ he said.
He noted that the sector now contributes less than 40 per cent, saying that the gap is as a result of the lack of the foreign exchange which used to come from the sector.
He added that the problem with the sector not getting loans from the bank is due to the lack of meeting point between the agriculture players and the financial institutions.
“They do not understand each other. The financial players do not understand how the agricultural sector works and this is why they do not want to put their money into it”, he said.
He said the renewed interest by Oceanic Bank is as a result of the Federal Government through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture’s effort to put in place processes that will make banks able to finance the sector from end to end in the value chain.
“For example, in the Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) programme that government has come up with, they have identified six products from end to end, from seed production, processing and all the likes. Everything you want to learn from this programme is easy and you can also secure your lending,” he added.
He pointed out that the agricultural sector cannot be ignored, adding that Oceanic Bank has started focusing on agriculture as part of its development finance, and that with the renewed effort by the Federal Government, the Bank is making it bigger and also dedicating half of it to corporate banking.