The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), on sustainable agricultural development in Nigeria.
The agreement further bolstered BATNF’s committment to inspire youths’ interest in agripreneur, which it has since demonstrated through its ‘Wealth is Here’ initiative.
The initiative, according to the foundation was instituted in the wake of CNN broadcast on Libya slavery, which highlights the desperation of Nigerian youths to migrate out of the country.
The MOU entails that both BATNF and BOA, under the initiative, would expose young people to entrepreneural opportunities, advocate for policies that affect agri-preneurs or farmers, provide access to finance, markets and technical support.
Signing the MOU at the company’s headquarters in Lagos, Executive Director of BATNF, Abimbola Okoya expressed optimism that the process would accelerate growth, drive investment and bridge youth unemployment gap in the country.
Okoya, who expressed worry about the rate at which Nigerian youth seek greener pasture in foreign lands largely due to unemployment, said that exploring agriculture opportunities and empowering the youth with right skills and resources would reverse the trend.
She explained: “The signing of the MOU highlights the committment of both organisations to work together towards the attainment of a joint mandate to promote sustainable agricultural development in Nigeria.”
On her part, General Manager, BATNF, Lolade Johnson-Agiri stated that the partnership was part of the Wealth is Here campaign, a joint initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria and BATNF.
“In the new deal, BATNF will leverage on BOA’s technical strength to fully develop and promote the foundation’s objectives. BOA will provide linkage to credit facilities for farmers or groups who emerge successful in our projects,” she said.
Responding, Executive Director of BOA, Mr. Olabode Abikoye, stated that BOA identified with the goals of the foundation to instill confidence in Nigerian youth that opportunities abound in the country.
“As a development finance institution,one of our mandate is to ensure a reversal of urban rural migration and provide a tangible basis for rural folks to hope for better livelihood. More importantly, it is about how we integrate the various segments of the value chain in agriculture and showcase the opportunities.
“With BATNF on board,we see this actualising very fast. Grants and facilitation of access to credit need to go together because the combination of the two will speak to the kind of cost of funds that these folks can aspire to,that will make their ventures viable”.