From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
PATRICK Akinmuntan, Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Nigeria on Thursday announced plans by the bank to invest N70 billion in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
The investment is to run till 2023 with initial release of N15 billion to complement current efforts of the federal government and other relevant stakeholders to boost food production and promote agribusiness in the sector.
“Our immediate focus is to invest N70 Billion in Agriculture financing within the next three years. With an initial take off tranche of N15 billion dedications funding in association with credible financing partners and instruments,” he said at the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit themed, ”Unlocking productivity and investment opportunities across Nigeria’s agribusiness value chain,” held in Lagos.
Akinmuntan described the sector as vital to developing the country. He, however, promised to leverage on success stories of other players in the sector and domesticate the idea.
“We are therefore committed to working with our notable partners to open up the vast opportunities that abound in the agriculture sector. We will leverage on the successful templates generated in the commodities and agribusiness sectors in the economies that we have supported across the continent, so we can replicate same in Nigeria.”
“We are working primarily to create value for all players in the agribusiness value chain, therefore, innovative tools, techniques and methodologies are being created and strategic partnerships are being established to ease agricultural development,” he added.
In his remarks, Aliyu Abdulhameed, Managing Director of the Nigeria Incentive Based Risk System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), said Ecobank is primarily to make profit, adding that current local and global trend is to invest in the agric sector.
He emphasised that, “to maximize its potential, the Nigeria Agriculture sector requires business in areas like finance capital, technology capital among others.”
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri revealed that the ministry is already collaborating with the African Development Bank (ADB) to promote and develop Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZS) in the country.
He said it would foster local and foreign partners to advance the level of trade and investments in the agricultural sector as a veritable strategy to diversify the economy.
Shehuri noted that there is need for a viable synergy and collaboration of all the relevant stakeholders including the financial sector as well as Governments at various levels and the Development partners.
“Within the overall set of policy principles, the Federal Government is concentrating on providing an enabling environment and a level playground for stakeholders at all levels to enhance investment and capital flow into the Agric sector.”
“This Summit also marks another milestone and traction in the journey of economic diversification in line with the vision of the Economic Recovering and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.”