Ecobank, a leading bank in agriculture and export finance across Africa with presence in over 36 countries, plans to grow its current agricultural loan portfolio of N84 billion in Nigeria significantly in the next four years in line with Federal Government’s focus on the agric sector.
The Country Manager, Agriculture and Export Finance, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Abel Ajala, who disclosed this in Lagos said it is part of the bank’s deliberate and strategic initiative to increase support to the agriculture sector in Nigeria.
According to Mr. Ajala, the bank works closely with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Industry (BoI), using intervention funds and other schemes to avail credit facilities at concessionary interest rates and single digit interest rate for CBN/BoI intervention funds.
“Apart from the bank’s direct lending to agric sector, Ecobank has supported many stakeholders in the sector to obtain BoI loans and various CBN-support facilities for agriculture such as Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), Nigeria Incentive – based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) etc at a single digit interest rate. Ecobank also plans to grow the BoI/CBN funding portfolio in the bank significantly in the next four years.”
Ecobank has built a robust agriculture and export unit, staffed by highly qualified professionals to ensure easy risk assessment of loans while adequately providing measures to guarantee that beneficiaries use the funds diligently and pay back as at when due, he said.
He maintained that Ecobank is actively supporting agriculture both in the production (including agricultural processing), distribution and other areas of the value chain, stressing that the sector is at the centre of transforming the economy. “It is part of our deliberate and strategic initiative to increase support to the agric sector’’.
Ajala further stated that “we lend to farmers to procure fertilizers; as well as for agric products and produce like cocoa, cashew, seeds, leather, skin tannery, rubber crumbs, poultry, fisheries, livestock, crops, in fact the entire value chain. As a bank, we have resolved to take financing of the sector to the next level.”
He enjoined participants in agric and exports to avail themselves the opportunity provided by the bank‘s presence in 36 countries across Africa.
“For importers and exporters, Ecobank remains the best bank to do business with because of our spread across the continent. We have agric and export help desk in all our branches. We provide end to end link between the processors and off-takers to ensure seamless transaction.”
Only recently, the 2013 rebased GDP indicated that agriculture accounts for roughly 22% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Nigeria, which is the largest contributor to GDP. With renewed focus on agriculture, Nigeria is gradually moving towards food security and food sufficiency and Ecobank is poised to be a part of this success story, he noted.