Heritage Bank Plc has restated its commitment to the sustenance, growth and development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
The bank’s Divisional Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Fela Ibidapo, who stated this Monday,said that the bank was prepared to leading the way in agricultural financing in the country.
Ibidapo explained that realise this goal the lender was already funding various agricultural projects in several states of the country, especially in Oyo, Kaduna and Zamfara states.
Specifically, he disclosed that the bank had entered into a partnership with the Oyo State Government to support the multi-billion Oyo State Agricultural Initiative (OYSAI), amongst other funding interventions.
The OYSAI is a programme designed to revive agriculture, boost agro-allied businesses and empower the youth and women across the state through the creation of thousands of jobs in the sector.
According to him, Heritage Bank is also supporting an agro-investor, Triton Aqua Africa Limited (TAAL), with a N2 billion facility in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS).
The facility will enable TAAL to set up a fishery production chain in Lagos, Oyo and Osun states.
Ibidapo said this support to the agro-investor became imperative after research showed that Nigerians consume about 2.7million metric tonnes of fish yearly compared to the paltry 800,000 metric tonnes of fish that is produced locally every year.
Consequently, the country has had to rely on importation to augment the shortfall with an estimated cost implication of about $700 million yearly in foreign exchange.
He said the partnership between Heritage Bank and TAAL would help reverse the trend, adding that the firm will use the facility to expand its aquaculture businesses by setting up a nursery/hatchery for the production of fingerlings and brood stock as well as earthen ponds for catfish and tilapia in the three states.
Under the arrangement, TAAL is expected to assist small-scale farms in the three states to increase their fish production by making fingerlings available to them.
In the short term, the loan is expected to help the group double its current production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes with a projection to scale it up to 100,000 metric tonnes in five years.
The bank’s spokesperson explained that the partnership between the parties would boost local production, conserve foreign exchange, enhance food security and ultimately result in the creation of hundreds of new jobs.