Heritage Bank Restates Commitment to Deepen Agro-business

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Heritage Bank Plc has reiterated its commitment to further deepen the drive to support agribusiness value chain in order to fast track food security and sufficiency in the country.

The MD/CEO of the bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, who disclosed this, said Heritage Bank would not relent in boosting the agric base of the nation and; making farming profitable to stakeholders and attractive to the youths.

Specifically, he affirmed that the bank would focus on supporting the agric space via financing farmers to purchase modern technology; as the funding will bring about transformative development in the sector.

According to him, the bank would support the drive for cash crop commodities that would boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, which the President MuhammaduBuhari’s administration has always been cautious given the dangers the continuous reliance on imported food items pose to its efforts to create jobs as well as develop and diversify the economy.

A statement from the bank, quoted Sekibo, to have said this through the Group Head, Agriculture Finance of the bank, Mr. Olugbenga Awe, who also affirmed Heritage Bank’s commitment to the development of agribusiness and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Our support cuts across the entire value chain with focus on large corporates and small holder farmers. We encourage value addition and ultimately export,” he said.

He, however, noted that the bank’s support goes beyond food sufficiency to increasing cash crop commodities that would boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

Heritage Bank, he also stated, was effectively tackling the bottlenecks since it has long identified the opportunities in agribusiness, thereby offering solutions to ease of doing business in the sector.

“For ease of financing, we would be better off with functional commodity exchanges as a country. We can start by refinancing commodities through a warehousing receipt system, gradually we will move to crop receipt.

“With commodities exchange, the value-chain is strengthened and the whole system is structured. Exchange helps in reducing the long marketing chain, it helps in enforcement of commodity standards, it provides price certainty and in some cases storage and warehousing facilities,” Awe suggested.

He further noted: “If we sustain the current momentum on rice, we shall surely export rice in the nearest future, and the operative word here is sustaining the momentum. However, there is need for strategic alignment on objectives. The current focus by government is on small holders’ farmers using the instrumentality of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) by Central Bank of Nigeria.”