By Kayode Tokede
The Head of Agric Business Department of Ecobank Nigeria, Mojisola Oguntoyinbo said the bank in the next two-three years plans to invest N70 billion in the agriculture sector.
The lender is exploring partnership across the globe to support cheaper lines of credit to players in the industry through Export Credit Agencies.
According to her, “The Bank plans to increase loan portfolio to the agricultural sector by N70 billion within the next two- three years and the lender will hold an Agribusiness summit next month themed – “Unlocking Productivity and Investment opportunities across Nigeria’s Agribusiness value chain”
Nigerian farmers are to have access to more credit owing to the collaboration by Ecobank Nigeria Ltd with three others to increase the facilities to the agricultural sector in the next two to three years.
Others involved are the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) that will be providing a guarantee on loans granted by Ecobank to Nigerian farmers and processors.
It will target all players in all value-chain of the sector (input suppliers, crop and livestock producers, processors, commodity exporters etc).
Banks in Africa’s biggest oil producer are increasing lending to the agricultural industry amid a push by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to diversify the economy away from crude. The Central Bank of Nigeria has regulated banks to maintain a minimum loan-to-deposit ratio of 65per cent or face penalties while supporting the government’s drive to produce more food locally and curb imports.
While Ecobank has a loan-to-deposit ratio of more than 65per cent in Nigeria, it is targeting agriculture to boost its “return on investment,” according to Oguntoyinbo. “Small and medium enterprises are growing rapidly in the agricultural sector and there are opportunities there, which we desire to nurture for growth and development.”