Ecobank says it’s entering a partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Netherlands-based Robobank to expand its loan facilities to Nigerian farmers.
According to officials in the bank, this collaboration will lead to a doubling of its assistance to players in the country’s agricultural industry.
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Reports say USAID could be backing 50% of the loans Ecobank extends to farmers. On its part, Robobank will be helping with cheaper credit lines for larger-scale concerns in the industry.
Ecobank currently has a ₦70 billion financing scheme for farmers in Nigeria, which it had announced in 2019. The program is expected to disburse funds to businesses in the agricultural value chain over the next three years.
The bank has also planned an agribusiness and food investment summit through which it could secure deals for players in the agribusiness sector. The event is slated for February 2020 and is being publicized as Nigeria’s biggest agro-investment summit.
Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, had said that the bank’s growing support for agriculture in Nigeria mirrored its activity elsewhere on the continent.
“Agriculture is pivotal to the success and development of any nation’s economy,”
“This (program) will give us the opportunity to create employment and enable farmers to finance their children’s education with ease.”
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While Ecobank’s lending to agribusinesses appears to be private sector-driven, it fits a wider reality that’s being encouraged by public policy. The Federal Government has been pushing for a more robust agricultural sector, as it seeks to wean the country’s economy off its dependence on oil revenues.
Besides offering loan facilities through public development banking institutions, it has increased private banks’ deposit-to-lending ratio to make them lend more to businesses.
Ecobank’s executives say that there are attractive investment opportunities in Nigeria’s agricultural space and that they are keen on taking advantage of them.
Featured image source: Business Journal
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