THE First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has lamented the inability of Nigeria to maximise its agricultural potential despite the important role the sector plays in the nation’s quest to achieve sustainable development and economic well-being.
But in line with efforts to remedy the situation, the bank recently collaborated with Doreo Partners to launch a support programme for farmers known as Babban Gona (great farm), an agricultural franchise model, where farmers are trained and offered specially packaged loans to carry out their farming activities.
The bank said through this partnership, it will be connecting to farmers in the Gimba, Soba and Maigana communities, in a franchise comprising about 3,000 farmers. It said it has also designed a series of training for this population of smallholder farmers for all-inclusive agro-finance empowerment with a primary objective of eliminating poverty, encouraging agriculture as an alternative source of economic recovery for Nigeria.
Speaking recently with newsmen, the Divisional Head, Agricultural Business Finance of the bank, Mr. Kudzai Gumunyu, revealed that FCMB would continue to partner players in the agric space with a view to taking advantage of the many opportunities it presents and ultimately contribute positively towards economic growth, employment creation, import substitution and economic sustainability.
Elaborating on FCMB’s interest in agriculture financing, Gumunyu asserted that, “as agriculture has the potential to stimulate economic growth, it is logical to expect that agricultural financing will become an important instrument of economic policy for Nigeria in her effort to stimulate development in all directions.” He stated: “Beyond this is the fact that agriculture is the biggest employer in Nigeria and other developing economies. Nigeria is blessed with fertile soils, good rainfall, reasonably priced labour and a huge demand for agricultural produce owing to a large population base. It would, therefore, be unforgivable if such a blessed country does not have bragging rights as a major exporter of agricultural commodities in the world.”
Gumunyu allayed fears nursed by farmers that the turn-around time and conditions attached to some credit facilities could be prohibitive, saying it is a positive experience with the FCMB facility.
He explained: “Farmers have a point in complaining about slow approval processes as their businesses are seasonal need timely access to finance. Most complaints stem from some financial institutions not understanding the farmer’s businesses.
Fortunately, they will not experience this at FCMB as we have a team of experienced and qualified agric bankers who do not only have a holistic knowledge about agriculture, but its associated businesses, especially the fact that they are time and season-bound.”