The Divisional Head, Corporate Communications of Heritage Bank, Fela Ibidapo, recently said that the bank would contribute immensely towards the sustenance, growth and development of the nation’s agricultural sector.
According to him, the bank, in its determination to deliver on this promise, is currently funding various agricultural projects in several states, especially Oyo, Kaduna and Zamfara.
He said Heritage Bank had entered into a partnership with the Oyo State government to support the multi-billion Oyo State Agricultural Initiative, a programme designed to revive agriculture, boost agro-allied businesses and empower the youths and women across the state through the creation of thousands of jobs in the sector.
According to him, the bank is also supporting an agro-investor, Triton Aqua Africa Limited, with a N2bn facility in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme.
It said the facility would enable TAAL to set up a fishery production chain in Lagos, Oyo and Osun states.
Ibidapo said the support to the agro-investor became imperative after research showed that Nigerians consumed about 2.7 million metric tonnes of fish yearly compared to the paltry 800,000 metric tonnes of fish produced locally every year.
According to the statement, the country has had to rely on importation to augment the shortfall with an estimated cost implication of about $700m yearly in foreign exchange.
He said the partnership between Heritage Bank and TAAL would help reverse the trend, adding that the firm would use the facility to expand its aquaculture businesses by setting up a nursery/hatchery for the production of fingerlings and brood stock as well as earthen ponds for catfish and tilapia in the three states.
Under the arrangement, TAAL is expected to assist small-scale farms in the three states to increase their fish production by making fingerlings available to them. In the short term, the loan is expected to help the group double its current production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes with a projection to scale it up to 100,000 metric tonnes in five years.