Bank lending to agriculture has increased by about 37.6 per cent signifying a significant shift in bank lending pattern.
According to a report titled: “Bankers’ Committee Economic Development Agenda and Scorecard, ``agriculture lending increased by N212.64 billion as at October last year, representing a 37.6 percent increase over 2010 lending.’’
The report also indicated that lending to the sector rose by 2.78 percent of total gross lending in the banking sector by October last year, as against the comparable period of the previous year. There have been outcries about the lopsided lending to farmers and agriculture projects in the country given that the sector accounts for about 42 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The report, which was presented to the Bankers’ Committee recently indicated that the increase in credit was made possible by definite policy measures initiated and implemented by the deposit money banks in the past year.
``Agric departments and desks were set up at all banks in the country to provide specialised agric lending services while thirty banking professionals were trained on agric commercial lending and Development Credit Authority and guarantees in the past year,’’ the report stated.
The assets deployment of banks in the power and transportation sectors also got a boost as ``144 professionals were trained across commercial banks and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) as well as government agencies to facilitate infrastructure project financing,’’ according to the report.
It could be recalled that the Bankers’ Committee had in 2010 following a retreat in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, taken a position to finance critical sectors of the economy as a major departure from financing operators in the financial markets and trading activities in a bid to ensure sustained economic development in the country.