Heritage Bank Plc and the Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has concluded partnership arrangements that will lead to the identification and secured financing of impactful agribusiness within all the segments of the agricultural value chain; from primary production for producing raw materials and sustaining the processing industries to exportation of the produce.
The MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo said that the partnership is important because it will help the bank leverage its balance sheet to make loans and credit available, at very low interest rates, to commercially viable agricultural projects that have been packaged and fully de-risked.
The Executive Director of Heritage Bank, Jude Monye, who represented the MD/CEO of the bank, disclosed that arrangements have been concluded by Heritage Bank’s Management to revolutionise agricultural sector that would widening and deepening the participation of digital generation into the agribusiness.
He noted that the continued support of NIRSAL would help the bank take agribusiness to digitalised level.
According to him, this digitalised platform will help widen distribution of human capital that meet parameters of agribusiness- information, enhance price discovery, provide direct service, give agribusiness authentic voice in media, enhance agribusiness education in schools among others.
Speaking at the meeting held at the Bank’s head office at the weekend, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed stated that NIRSAL was willing to work with Heritage Bank to create secured structural finance schemes, which will enable Heritage Bank to lend confidently into complete, end to end along the agricultural value chain; while at the same time protecting its balance sheet.
The MD, who enjoined financial institution to take opportunities in lending to agric sector though stated NIRSAL have noticed that lack of regulation, poor visibility of value chain amongst other factors were some of the reasons why banks have not been lending and supporting primary agricultural production.
He also noted that Nigeria is endowed with all the natural resources to thrive in Agriculture but lack the human capital that meets parameters to grow agribusiness.
According to him, we need 100% of the value chain visibility, equipment capital , technology capital and especially finance capital, which is the “un-locker” of the other opportunities in the area of capital development.
Specifically, Abdulhameed commended the Heritage Bank for its concerted efforts in supporting agric sector in continuation with its partnership with NIRSAL, whilst assuring offering priority ticket to support the bank’s unique feats to the growth of the agricultural value chain.
He, however, stated that since agriculture sector remains one of Nigeria’s greatest hopes for economic growth and development, there is need for Heritage Bank to ensure that every project must have robust risk management around it.
According to him, for the partnership to be considered to be resourceful, NIRSAL mandate is to serve as a catalyst for national agricultural revolution by boosting commercial agricultural productivity, competitiveness, value addition, and market access and food security through the mechanism of de-risking the agricultural value chain in order to encourage investment by banks and the entire financial sector