Just as its name implies, FirstBank Plc has been the first to fully support the agric business development in Nigeria and have disbursed over N100b to support 118 projects which is over 23% of the total 509 projects by all the banks put together.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director of First Bank, Dr. Adesola Adedutan at the third edition of the FirstBank 2019 Agric Expo recently held at Eko Hotel in Lagos.
In his opening remark, Adedutan said: “Agricultural financing has been and still is a core part of our business in First Bank today. As you may all be aware, this is First Bank’s 125th anniversary year. It is worthy of note that we commenced operations with a major strategic focus on financing agriculture development as well as enabling farmers and agro-businesses. We are therefore celebrating 125 years of supporting agriculture and agric business development in Nigeria.
“So, we can proudly say we are providing services across the value chain of the agricultural industry. In partnership with public sector institutions, First Bank has supported several state governments on Agricultural Development Trust Fund Scheme, an initiative designed to provide credit facilities to small scale farmers who would otherwise be constrained by the lack of collateral.
“We are partnering with a good number of states on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Accelerated Development Agric Development Scheme (AADS). Notably, we have disbursed more than forty billion naira under the CBN’s Paddy Aggregation Scheme (PAS). Our teams of dedicated agricultural professionals specializing in various fields of agriculture are strategically located in our branches nationwide to identify and support agricultural enterprises covering the entire geographical regions of the country with a suite of sector and customer friendly agricultural financing solutions tailored towards the bank’s support to the sector.
“Under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), the FGN/CBN initiative designed to provide long tenured credit facilities to commercial agricultural enterprises at single digit interest rate, it would interest you to know that first bank has supported 118 projects (over 23) out of a total of 509projects supported by all the bank’s put together, and disbursed over one hundred billion naira (N100billion), under the initiative. The projects spread across input supplies, primary production, processing and marketing. Obligors include small, medium and large-scale enterprise in the agricultural value chain. We’re also supporting research and development through the endowment of professional chairs in agriculture in some Nigerian universities.
“We have also provided infrastructure to support learning and development in agriculture and associated fields in Nigerian universities.”
At the event, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono informed that the federal government is encouraging Agricultural research to develop the sector.
He said: “For whatever reason, we cannot do without research and this is where I will direct attention because all the research institutions in this country, they have big buildings, big offices, everything that they require but the money allocated for real research is not there and that is what I intend to change this time.
“I have met with most of the research institutes under me, about 20 to 30 of them and when we were discussing, I told them with all these Professors and others we have not been serious, then where is the impact. We still buy our seeds from Ghana, from Burkina Faso, from Mali, what a shame! We owe 60 per cent of the GDP of West and Central Africa, we can’t be ignored but we are ignored because not serious on this most important thing,” he said.
Nanono implored the commercial banks and other developmental financial institutions to come up with measures to fast track the development of agriculture and agro-allied industries in this Nigeria.
He said: “The days are gone when financial institutions will just sit down, they have to be proactive and I think in this regard, I will like to congratulate First Bank of Nigeria and I hope that First Bank of Nigeria, being the first will lead the way to this important revolution,”
Ably represented by the Senior Manager, Export Development, Africa Export, Import Bank, Mr. Babajide Sodipo, the key note speaker, Prof Ben Oramah appealed to the government to subsidise farmers instead of fuel to enable farmers continue to contribute significantly to the nation’s GDP.
Special adviser on Agriculture, to the Ondo State Governor, Pastor Akin Olotu, harped on the need for government deal with the issue of community road network.