Agricultural sector received a major boost at the weekend as Sterling Bank Plc restated its commitment to the strategic growth of the Sector by increasing the proportion of loans allocated to it from the total loans earmarked for disbursement to various sectors of the economy from five percent 10 percent in 2015.
The Bank will also be willing to partner with major stakeholders – both private and government in the sector to ensure that farmers begin to see agriculture more as a business.
Speaking at the 2015 Conference organized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with the International Association of Research Scholars & Fellows, IARSAF, the Bank’s Group Head, Agric Finance, Mrs. Bukola Awosanya stated that the five percent allocated to the sector in 2014 was fully disbursed to the various sub sectors across the value chain for the financing of various projects nationwide.
Mrs. Awosanya who disclosed that the Bank is a major financier of one of the largest rice mills in Nigeria as well as a state of the art soya bean oil milling plant, stated that the Bank had also provided fund to financing Poultry businesses.
Mrs. Awosanya who also led a delegation from the Bank to the Deputy Director General, Partnership and Capacity Development of IITA, Dr. Kenton Dashiell said that the decision of the Bank was informed by the need to provide adequate funding in alignment with the on-going reforms in the sector aimed at repositioning it as an attractive business proposition, an input provider for the manufacturing sector and a key foreign exchange earner for the country.
The president of IARSAF, Mrs. Bunmi Ibitoye who commended the Bank for its contribution to the growth of the sector in Nigeria called on other corporate bodies to emulate Sterling Bank by providing funds to support research works being carried out by professionals in the field to solve major issues confronting the sector.
Mrs. Ibitoye also urged banks to encourage the sector by granting loans to small farmers at affordable interest rates which “today stands as a major problem confronting operators especially start -ups”. She also called on the government to provide the basic infrastructure that would guarantee easy movement of inputs to the farm area, better storage of harvest and efficient transport of harvests to the market to ensure that farmers optimize their investments.

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