By Peter Egwuatu
UNITY Bank Plc has concluded arrangement to finance the Nigerian cashew farmers to boost production by 43 percent to 50,000 metric tonnes from 35,000 metric tonnes.
Speaking at a summit organized by the bank in collaboration with the Association of Cashew Farmers, Processors and Aggregators of Nigeria, ACFAP, in Lagos, Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono said: “Nigeria is currently the sixth largest producer of cashew in the world, with the country producing an estimated 350,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts and generating over $813 million in foreign exchange earnings over the past three years.”
He noted that the Unity Bank’s partnership is expected to provide funding opportunities for farmers to boost production to about 500,000 metric tonnes over the next three years.“
Speaking on what inspired the bank’s partnership, the Managing Director/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun stated that the support of ACFAP reinforces the bank’s long-standing commitment to the provision of funding for commercial farming, out-growers’ schemes for small holder farmers and various commodity associations.“
Represented by the bank’s Head of Agribusiness, Mrs. Patricia Ahunanya, Somefun said: “The summit has enabled us to re-engage with stakeholders to better appreciate where funding needs are most required now and in the medium term, to optimally develop the sub-sector for the benefit of the economy at large”.
Somefun explained that Unity Bank has, through active participation in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s intervention funds and other initiatives, been at the forefront of supporting smallholder farmers with the objective to drive the federal government’s agenda to diversify the economy through promoting growth in the agricultural sector and its value chain.“
She said: “Unity Bank has a strategic business objective anchored on agriculture, retail/SME and rural development and has developed a successful business model that enables it to facilitate strong support initiatives to major commodity associations such as RIFAN, NACOTAN, MAAN, WFAN, Soybeans Farmers Association, etc. to effectively reach out to individual players in Agribusiness.”