Heritage Bank calls for increased govt, banks support in Agriculture sector

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Heritage Bank Plc has called on government at all levels and deposit money banks to increase supports in agriculture, as it is the most resilient and important sector of the Nigerian economy, despite underwhelming investment in the sector.

The Executive Director of the bank, Jude Monye stated this while delivering a paper, titled, Bank Experience in Lending to the Real Sector (Agric) of the Economy, at the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) 2018 Chief Risk Officers Forum Retreat, in Lagos, yesterday. He disclosed that increased focus on the agriculture sector would contribute to the Job creation objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), as its labour intensive process across the value chain has the potential of creating multiple jobs, create wealth, and increase the sector’s contribution to GDP and foreign exchange earnings

 

Meanwhile, Monye stressed that the under-performance of the sector is closely tied; amongst other factors; to poor credit access from banks. On the part of the government, he decried that Nigeria’s Agricultural research institutes that are established to drive the sector’s business were underfunded compared to India. The 2018 budget allocates N54bn and N149bn (US$490m) to the agriculture and rural development ministry for recurrent and capital spending respectively. Agricultural research institutes have received an average of N28bn (US$90m) annually over the past five years. The comparable figure for India, with six times the population, is closer to US$2bn, he stated. He further noted that the economic recovery and growth plan of the government is heavy on Agriculture and MSMEs as key drivers of the economic diversification plan. Successful implementation of the Government’s Recovery Plan provides significant opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors and financiers particularly in the Agro-allied Sector, Monye affirmed.

 

The Executive Director added that investments in infrastructure (energy and transportation) are supportive of Agric-led growth. He explained that to explore options for de-risking and unlocking bank lending to the Agric sector so as to develop and position the sector for increased contribution to Nigeria’s GDP and revenues, there is need to Continue regulatory-driven intervention funds to increase access to credit at single-digit rates and long tenors, Improve knowledge of Banks and Bankers on Agric finance and Agricultural Risk Management through focused capacity building and many others.

 

Speaking at a retreat with the theme, Achieving Economic Diversification for Nigeria via the De-Risking of Lending to the Nigerian Non-oil Sectors, the MD/CEO of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abduhameed, explained that the value chain financing is one of the major problem facing Nigerian agricultural sector. But, he pointed out that NIRSAL does this by de-risking the agricultural financing value chain, building long-term capabilities and institutionalizing agricultural lending through risk sharing with banks, technical capacity building as well as the provision of incentives to encourage bank lending. According to him, Nigeria is endowed with all the natural resources to thrive in agriculture, but the sector lacks the capital with which to maximally meet the opportunities. He stated that NIRSAL aims to increase deposit money banks lending and other private investment. Abduhameed disclosed that proposal has been put before the Central Bank of Nigeria for NIRSAL to be recognised as a collateral instrument as well as flow instrument, as this would fast track the de-risking of the value chain financing.

 

Group ED/Agribusiness TGI Group, Farouk Gumel, as one of the panellists, stressed the need to shed more light on banking agriculture rather than de-risking. He also canvassed for more investments in infrastructure and addressing the eco-climate system in the country.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Akinola George-Taylor, Managing Director of Heritage Bank Plc, and his Team, paid courtesy visit yesterday to the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, at the State House, Alausa yesterday.

The Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Akinola George-Taylor has disclosed that the bank would continue to increase the wallet of its business transactions with Lagos state government.  

He gave this assurance yesterday when he led a team of the bank on a courtesy visit to the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the government house, Alausa, Ikeja.

George-Taylor commended Sanwo-Olu’s administration, whilst aligning with the great works in Lagos State.

“We are here to introduce ourselves as the new management of the Heritage Bank and being that we have had a relationship with the state (Lagos) for a number of years now, we felt it was necessary to come and present ourselves to the Governor; to say thanks for the business that we enjoyed with the government and that we align and commend the great work he is doing for Lagos State.

“And of course, as bankers, we want to try and increase our own size of the wallet of the business that we do with the government and to extend our best wishes to him and his government. It was a courtesy call to say thank you and wish him well in the next coming elections,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the Governor, Sanwo-Olu said his administration was poised to do more as it continued to play its roles in providing an enabling environment, improving the ease of doing business and being forward-looking in its dealings with financial institutions.

The governor also said that his administration will continue to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship with financial institutions in the State.

He said: “Lagos is the Centre of Excellence and the commercial, economic nerve centre, so we cannot but ensure that we have a very forward-looking mutually beneficial relationship with all of our financial institutions and of course, Heritage Bank is not an exception.

“I want to implore you and your team to be intentional and think something fresh; think something different that can indeed stimulate us. You can rest assured that we know how important it is to spread our businesses and to ensure that everybody gets a part of it knowing that you and your staff will also have a corporate responsibility on the Personal Income Tax component. It is expected that we will continue to play our roles and play our parts.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu congratulated the Managing Director and his new team on the huge and great responsibilities that shareholders and other stakeholders in Heritage Bank have reposed in them,” he said.