Heritage Bank Plc in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to disburse N41 billion to farmers from 14 states for the expansion of the wheat production project. The wheat farmers will, however, be registered by the bank with the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE) for successful disbursement.
They are also expected to cover about 111, 025 hectares in an effort to attain huge milestones in wheat production.
Speaking at a media briefing with newsmen, the Managing Director/CEO of Heritage Bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, said the partnership was to consummate Wheat Seed Multiplication Project under the CBN’s Brown Revolution Initiative.
According to him, the partnership will ensure due diligence on loan administration, monitoring and recovery which would bring about increase in the domestic production of wheat and close the wide supply gap in the Nigerian agricultural space.
Sekibo, who was represented by the Divisional Head, Agribusiness, Natural Resources & Project Development, Heritage Bank, Mr Olugbenga Awe, said they aimed to end importation of seeds and make Nigeria self-sufficient in wheat production.
“We are working with about 30 firms focusing only on seed production and also working with CBN to make sure we register all farmers. We believe working with LCFE will move Nigerian farmers from informal approach to a structured approach.
“We decided to focus on the dry season which comes naturally to our people. As a bank, we are working on two things; one is to ensure the continuous multiplication of seeds and the other is to focus on the grains,” he said in a statement given to Persecondnews.com on Thursday.
Sekibo explained that the scheme would help reduce the nation’s food import bill by increasing wheat production, creating market linkages between smallholders farmers and Anchors/Processors, creating an ecosystem that drives value chain financing and improve access to credit by the smallholder farmers by developing credit history through the scheme and many more.
Also speaking, a former Executive Director of Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Dr Oluwasina Olabanji, commended Heritage Bank for its efforts in reducing wheat importation and saving the country from the $2 billion spent annually on the importation of wheat.
According to him, CBN and Heritage Bank’s intervention has become critical due to the high demand for wheat in Nigeria and the inability to meet the demand.
“If this money is saved it could be used for infrastructural development. It is true that there are a lot of linkages not only on financial institutions but also in the value chain, these linkages have been molded together with the intervention of Central Bank of Nigeria and Heritage Bank.”
In his remarks, the Managing Director, LCFE, Mr Akinsola Akeredolu-Ale, also lauded the CBN and Heritage Bank for their support which has leveraged Nigeria to be on the right track for self-sufficiency in food production.
He said the commodity exchange in partnership with Heritage Bank would provide an enabling environment for farmers, warehouse owners, commodity middle men and commodity merchants, to be able to trade Wheat.
“LCFE has created a platform that enhances liquidity in the commodity market, enhances the revenue base of the country and enables commodity traders to manage risk.”