“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.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono gave the commendation during the FirstBank 2019 Agric Expo, ” Agricultural Value Chain: Spotlighting Opportunities and Managing Risks”, organized by the First Bank of Nigeria Limited in Lagos.
He noted that the days of sectoral lending was over adding that commercial banks and other developmental financial institutions would have to come up with measures to fast track the development of agriculture and agro-allied industries in this country.
Why are we buying seeds
He noted that it was shameful that despite all the agricultural research institutes scattered all over the country, Nigeria still buy seeds from Ghana, Burkinafaso, Mali among others.
” 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 that he is determined to build a formidable partnership with key relevant stakeholders not only to provide for agricultural sector but also to create an enabling environment for agro-industrialization.
“Our initial focus will be on the following: review of agricultural policies, master plan and action plan, rural agricultural development, successful agric investment, agricultural education and mechanization, technical and training facilities for farmers, centralization of agricultural inputs, agricultural research and agro support and fund and developmental support for the participants in the agricultural sector, year round farming and reviving extension services.”
On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo described the theme of this year’s edition of the FirstBank Agric Expo as apt in view of the current reality which he said was indicative of the necessity for a paradigm shift towards harnessing the potentials and opportunities in agricultural sector.
“I commend FirstBank for this annual event which is focused on changing the agricultural commodity sector. The federal government is committed to sustaining the partnership with organizations to work for the development of the agricultural commodity sector”, he added.
125 Years of agricultural financing
Earlier in his welcome address, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, said the bank has in the past 125 years of operations focused on financing agricultural development as well as providing support for the growth of agribusinesses in the country.
“Agricultural financing has been and still is a core part of our business in FirstBank . 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,” Adeduntan said.
Disburses N100 billion on 118 projects
He disclosed that under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), the Federal Government and Central Bank initiative designed to provide long tenured credit facilities to commercial agricultural enterprises at single digit interest rate, the bank has supported 118 projects (over 23%) of the total 509 projects by all the banks put together.
” Under the initiative, the bank has disbursed over N100 billion for the project spread across input supplies, primary production, processing and marketing to obligors which include small, medium and large-scale enterprise in the agricultural value chain, ” he said.
In Picture Adeduntan, MD of First Bank of Nigeria, delivers welcome address at the event