As part of efforts towards improving agriculture in Nigeria, Sterling Bank Plc has partnered with Mercy Corps to train more than 90, 000 farmers on better agricultural practices to improve output and grow the sector.
The programme, Feed The Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity is a five-year programme funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the USAID’s Feed the Future Project.
Giving details of the intervention during the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which held virtually, Group Head, Agriculture, and Solid Mineral Finance, Sterling Bank, Bukola Awosanya, noted that the partnership with Mercy Corps Nigeria is in tandem with the financial institution’s commitment to the economic recovery of the country as recession and food inflation bite harder.
Awosanya said Sterling Bank which has consistently worked to stimulate the growth of Nigeria’s economy for six decades, understands that working with relevant stakeholders is critical and, therefore, is at the heart of the bank’s professional service and interventionist policies.
She added that “Our commitment to critical sectors: Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation (HEART) has brought together our collaboration with Mercy Corps Nigeria. We are excited about how this programme will impact not only agribusiness in the country but also the lives of the beneficiaries.
“Agriculture is pivotal to our strategy as a financial institution. It had been clear to us before now that Nigeria will only prosper when we place priority on core areas of our national life. We have remained faithful to this strategy for years and this MOU represents an expression of our faith in the agribusiness value chain as well as its place in economic recovery and development” Awosanya stated.
Ndubuisi Anyanwu, Country Director at Mercy Corps Nigeria, said the USAID’s Feed The Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity became necessary considering the need to support critical sectors and stakeholders in parts of Nigeria as the international organisation had done in other countries of the world.
He added that working with a well-known agribusiness finance leader such as Sterling Bank is not a coincidence but rather a deliberate attempt to improve impact using the bank’s many years of commitment and expertise in financing the sector.
In her remarks, Margarita Aswani, Chief of Party, Feed The Future Nigeria, Rural Resilience Activity, pointed that her organisation believes that ensuring economic recovery and development is one of the many ways to expand opportunities for every citizen noting that Sterling Bank’s role is critical to this process. “We are glad to enter into this partnership with Sterling seeing as it aligns with the bank’s HEART Strategy. The many opportunities in this project will improve the lives of every stakeholder, especially the small-holder farmers.
“This intervention has been designed to facilitate access and use of appropriate financial services particularly credit, savings, insurance, financial education and payment platforms for improving enterprise productivity and household income for small-holder farmers and micro-enterprises.”
Earlier in his address, Farouk Kurawa, Deputy Chief of Party – Rural Resilience Activity – Mercy Corps, stated that the goal of the Activity project is to facilitate and protect economic recovery and growth usually in socio-economically vulnerable areas and sustainably move people into expanded opportunities.
Kurawa, who described himself as a proud admirer of Sterling Bank, commended the commitment of the agric finance lender and its management to agribusiness, food security, and economic development.
He added that the Activity’s projects once completed will, in no small measure, improve agricultural practices and SMEs in most vulnerable parts of the country, thus leading to an increase in output as well as a reduction in the prices of food commodities.