The agriculture sector is one of the safest sector for banks to  invest in, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu has said.
The governor who is the Chairman, Presidential Task Force Committee on Rice and Wheat Production argued that the sector was not as perceived by many, during the 2019 Agriculture Summit Africa, on Thursday in Abuja.
The summit was organised by Sterling Bank in collaboration with the World Bank and other stakeholders.
The summit with the theme, “Agriculture: Your Piece of the Trillion-Dollar Economy” had about 2,000 participants, with representatives from the U.S. and other African countries.
The governor urged banks to allocate a higher percentage of their loans to the agricultural sector, saying the sector was not as risky as it was being perceived.
Bagudu said that beside Sterling Bank, which had dedicated 10 per cent of its total loan portfolio to the agricultural sector, other commercial banks gave one or two per cent to the sector.
The governor, who is also the Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council, said commercial banks believe that it is risky investing in agriculture, “not knowing that it is the safest sector to invest in.”
He commended Sterling Bank and other stakeholders for their support to the Federal Government’s effort to ensure food security.
“It is important, we put in more pressure to improve loan portfolio to the sector and encourage banks and other major stakeholders to put their best brains in the agricultural department.
“Many commercial banks do not realise that lending to agricultural sector will ensure safer banking and more prosperous society.
“Over the last three years, I have interacted with Sterling Bank and it shows how much there is to do; how much value addition is there to achieve and how much money there is to make in the sector.
“We have good brains that can help us figure out how to fund agriculture and the evidence is out there that agriculture is not as risky as those sectors that benefit up to 90 per cent loans from banks,” he said.
He congratulated Sterling Bank for organising the event, saying he was at the 2018 summit and it was beneficial to both the federal and state governments.
The governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osibanjo for their commitment to agricultural development.
According to him, some of the evidences to show that the current administration has agriculture at heart are the chairing of the Food Security Council by President Muhammadu Buhari and his playing host to major stakeholders in the sector.
He said that about N174 billion had been invested in Anchor Borrowers Programme since inception, which had aided many farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture value chain.
The governor called for collaborations by all to enable the stakeholders compete favourably at the international space.
“The Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2018 report states that Nigeria has 1.6 trillion dollars of agriculture value trade and has been growing annually on 6 per cent from 2000 to 2018.
“If anyone wants to invest anywhere it has to be in agriculture because it has the capacity to create wealth, ensure food security, employment opportunities and enhance national development.
“We cannot afford to be left behind. We should think about it the Sterling Bank way,” Bagudu said.
He called policymakers to be alert to activities in the international markets by coming up with policies that would place the country at an advantage globally because of the antics of some advance countries in agriculture.