The Group Managing Director of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc., Mrs. Funke Osibodu has called for concerted efforts by banks to make agricultural financing attractive and profitable for shareholders/depositors by focusing on a holistic value chain.
She made this call in Abuja at the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) workshop sponsored by the bank.
She emphasised the benefits of this approach to include the production of input/output linkages, meeting the needs of industries, infrastructure needs of stakeholders among others.
The Union Bank boss said that the value chain model would enhance increase in per capita income, employment generation, rural development, empowerment of citizens and well informed banking customers. She listed other benefits to include products for agricultural and industrial sectors, reduction in Africa’s food import bill and sustainability of Africa’s food security.
She commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for providing the platform for banks to focus on agriculture, and which is being complimented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture through practical innovations in enlarging the value chain approach.
The AFRACA workshop is expected to assist the central banks, development agencies and related ministries to align their interventions and policies with areas that will enhance the agricultural value chain. The forum is also expected to provide a road map to utilising knowledge for bank credit facilities from the farmers’ view point.
Union bank has been in the vanguard of agriculture financing for many decades, which has earned it national and international awards and laurels.
Meanwhile, experts and farmers at the workshop have called on relevant government agencies to take agriculture more seriously by increasing incentives to the sector.
The Secretary General of AFRACA, Alhaji Saleh Usman Gashua challenged African leaders to refocus their energies on policies that would attract investors to the sector.
He observed that in most emerging nations, Nigeria was behind practical steps towards achieving the much needed food security.
Experts such as professors Victor Okoruwa, James Olukosi, Dapo Adedire and Dr. Ilo posited that until an enabling environment was provided for all issues in the value chain, agriculture will continue to suffer policy inconsistencies and somersaults.
They challenged all the stakeholders to team up towards realising food sufficiency in the African continent. The agriculture experts opined that it was through collaboration that the value chain would be pulled rather than pushed.