Heritage Bank restates commitment to deepen Agro-business funding

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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,
stated that in a bid to support
food sufficiency, Heritage Bank
would not relent in boosting
the agric base of the nation and;
making farming profitable to
stakeholders and attractive to
the youth.
Specifically, he affirmed
that the bank would focus in
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 Muhammadu
Buhari’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.
The bank’s Group Head,
Agriculture Finance, Mr
Olugbenga Awe, also
disclosed that Heritage Bank is
committed 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.
He hinted that Heritage
Bank is 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 systems,
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.”
The Group Head, Agriculture
Finance, said to hasten the
export drive, commercial
farmers will have to step in
and drive the process using
mechanization on thousands
of hectares of farmland with
vast irrigation networks and
all year round farming as most
importers need large quantities
delivered on schedule.
Meanwhile, he noted that
with the Heritage Bank
strategic partnership, CBN
had continued to provide lot
of supports through various
on-lending scheme, as ABP has
made visible and measurable
impact especially in rice, while
hoping other commodities
especially grains would follow.
Awe explained that via the
strategic partnerships Heritage
Bank have achieved vast
footprints in agribusiness.



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