Heritage Bank Plc has explained reasons for participating in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme aimed at increasing rice production in the country.
The lender said its plan was to revolutionise the agricultural value-chain field, particularly the rice farming that would enhance agribusiness and aid economic development.
The Group Head, Agriculture Finance, Heritage Bank, Mr. Olugbenga Awe, made these known in a speech delivered at the third edition of the Rice Investment Summit held in Abuja in collaboration with the New Partnership for Africa Development.
In a statement, the lender said its drive to support rice production was born out of the conviction that agribusiness was profitable and could enhance the process of achieving food security in the country.
Heritage Bank, Awe said, was already addressing the bottlenecks facing rice production, noting that the bank had long identified the opportunities inherent in agribusiness before the collapse of crude oil prices.
He also noted that the bank had put in place measures to ensure fidelity to contract agreements and adherence to fair trading practices by beneficiaries of the CBN’s ABP.
According to him, the bank’s participation in the programme has paid off as the lender currently has a rich pool of farmers’ data to support grains production.
“The registered farmers on our database can easily be identified and trained with the support of extension services to plant any grains as the season demands. This flexibility provides continuous cash flow to the famers and ensure that more farmers are enlisted to join the programme,” Awe said.
The group head further explained, “In our quest to participate in the rice value-chain through the ABP, we supported hundreds of small-holder farmers in various communities in Kaduna and Zamfara states.”
He stressed that the prospect for rice production and agriculture in the country was bright.
The statement quoted him as saying, “The sector is driving the next set of entrepreneurs and we are committed to the development of the sector using appropriate technology and modern farming practices. We walk the talk at Heritage Bank as demonstrated in our portfolio allocation to agribusiness.”