STERLING Bank Plc said it has committed 10 per cent of its total loan portfolio to the finance of agriculture in recognition of the significant contribution that the agriculture sector is capable of making to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Group Head, Agric Finance and Solid Minerals, Sterling Bank, Mrs. Bukola Awosanya, who disclosed this at a recent summit on Commodity Value-Chain Investment and Agribusiness Support Initiative through Public-Private Partnership, PPP, in Abuja, said the bank’s commitment is a deliberate effort to support farmers and ensure that the “value chain is properly tied end to end.”
Awosanya explained that agriculture financing constitutes one of the five focal sectors of intervention for the bank alongside health, education, renewal energy and transport (HEART).
She noted that the absence of good agricultural practices, failure of farmers to repay loans, inconsistency in government policies as well as bad weather, among others, are some of the constraints to lending to operators in the sector.
She said: “We want to encourage farmers but if the input is bad, the output will fall short of expectations. For instance, poor seed quality is an issue; lack of infrastructure such as bad roads is also an issue because it makes distribution of the harvest from the farm to the market difficult.”