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Ecobank Partners NIRSAL, USAID To Increase Farmers’ Credit

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Ecobank Nigeria Ltd is partnering with the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and other partners to double the amount of credit it provides for the agricultural sector over the next two to three years.

Some of the partners will be providing guarantee on loans granted by Ecobank to Nigerian farmers and processors. Mojisola Oguntoyinbo, its head of Agric Business Department, said in Lagos. According to her, the bank is “exploring partnership across the globe to support cheaper lines of credit to players in the industry through export credit agencies.

The bank plans to increase loan portfolio to the agricultural sector by N70billion within the next two to three years and the lender will hold an agribusiness summit next month with the theme – “Unlocking Productivity and Investment opportunities across Nigeria’s Agribusiness value chain”, Oguntoyinbo said. It will target all players in all value-chain of the sector (input suppliers, crop and livestock producers, processors, commodity exporters etc).

Banks in Africa’s biggest oil producer are increasing lending to the agricultural industry amid a push by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to diversify the economy away from crude. The Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) has regulated banks to maintain a minimum loan-to-deposit ratio of 65 per cent or face penalties, while supporting the government’s drive to produce more food locally and curb imports.

While Ecobank has a loan-to-deposit ratio of more than 65 per cent in Nigeria, it is targeting agriculture to boost its “return on investment,” according to Oguntoyinbo.

“Small and medium enterprises are growing rapidly in the agricultural sector and there are opportunities there, which we desire to nurture for growth and development.”

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