By Nume Ekeghe
Heritage Bank Plc has signed a N232million agreement for the pilot phase of its out-growers agreement with Biase Plantations Limited (BPL) and its joint venture partner, PZ Wilmar Limited.
The pact sealed at the bankâ€™s Headquarter, weekend, saw the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, represented by the Executive Director, Business Banking, Mr. Jude Monye, and the Executive Director, Retail & SME Bank, Mrs. Adaeze Udensi, signing on behalf of the bank while the General Manager of BPL, Mr. Ahmad Mustaffa Goh, signed on behalf of his company.
Sekibo was quoted in a statement from the bank, to have said that the need for the partnership became imperative in view of the importance of agriculture to the sustainable development of Nigeria.
Furthermore, he said the initiative was taken to support governmentâ€™ effort towards diversifying the aggregate economy.
Sekibo also assured the management of Biase Plantations Limited that Heritage Bank would not relent in giving the necessary financial and investment advisory support the latter required for the success of the agricultural scheme in different parts of the country, adding that the policy thrust of the present federal government was about economic development and diversification.
On his part, Goh said: â€œToday marks a milestone in the actualisation of a long dream by Biase Plantations Limited. Â It has always been our priority to improve the socio-economic status of our landlord communities by developing an out-growers scheme that will build the resilience of local farmers to changing agricultural trend.â€
He added that the agreement between BPL and Heritage Bank Plc was the first of its kind in Nigeria, saying that they saw the development as readiness on the part of the bank to partner and grow with the vision of the Company.
According to him, the out growersâ€™ scheme was targeted at developing a sustainable small holderâ€™s scheme which will eventually increase the product supply.
The Group Head, Agric Finance & Export of Heritage Bank, Olugbenga Awe explained that the pilot scheme covers 45 farmers grouped into 4 co-operatives Society with a land mass of 150 hectares and the funds to be administered is from BPL.