Union Bank Nigeria PlcÂ has called on the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation to agricultural sector in order to boost food production in the country.
Speaking in Abuja at a reception organized by the Bank in honour of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Award-Winning Farmers and Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs, Dr. BathÂ Ebong, Group Managing Director/CEO, Union Bank advocated for increased budgetary allocation to agriculture, provision of feeder roads for farmers in the rural areas, improvement of the power situation, development of high yielding varieties of crops and a review of the memorandum of understanding signed by stakeholders under the trust fund model, stressing that only banks are currently bearing the burden.
Ebong in his address, commended the farmers financed by the Bank for their loyalty and faithfulness, saying the Bankâ€™s recovery rate in agricultural credit was the highest in the industry.
He asserted that the Bank did not have difficulties in the recovery of agricultural debts because it had mastered the capability and capacity of managing the scheme through understanding of target groups, timely project appraisal and efficient advisory services.
Dr. Ebong said that the reception was to demonstrate the Bankâ€™s gratitude to the farmers as well as emphasize its plans and commitment to food security and integrated development of the national economy.
He noted that Union Bank had consistently won the CBN award as the Best Agric Support Bank, amongst others, since its inception, pointing out that to date, the Bank had invested N25 billion in the Micro Credit Sector, exclusive of its lending to other areas of Agriculture and agro allied industries.
Dr Ebong also commended past government interventions in agriculture like the National Food Accelerated Programme, establishment of River Basin Development Authorities for Rural Farming, Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution and the present governmentâ€™s intervention through the provision of N200 billion. He called for more interventions and viable policies and initiatives that would encourage investors to key into agriculture.
Meanwhile, Nigerian farmers, under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), applauded the role of Union BankÂ in the development and growth of the real sector of the national economy through its various agricultural and SME financing schemes.
Speaking, the Chairman of AFAN and former Governor of Nassarawa State, Dr Abdullahi Adamu, the Sarkin Yakin, stressed that Union Bank had made agriculture a fundamental aspect of its commercial banking, thus, ranking as the first in agricultural financing in the nationâ€™s financial services sector.
He contended that the records, facts and figures as well as the Bankâ€™s activities in the development of agriculture were there for all to verify and said that banks such as Union Bank should be made to play key roles in the disbursement of the Federal Governmentâ€™s N200 billion agricultural intervention fund, considering its flair for agricultural financing.