Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Services Provider, is set to restore Nigeria’s lost glory in the agricultural sector and reposition the country as the highest oil palm producer in the world with its recent signing of N232 million Pilot phase of Out-growers Agreement with Biase Plantations Limited and its joint venture partner, PZ Wilmar Limited.
The pact was sealed at the bank’s Headquarters over the weekend.
It saw the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, represented by Jude Monye, the Executive Director, Business Banking, and Adaeze Udensi, the Executive Director, Retail & SME Banking, signing on behalf of the bank, while Ahmad Mustaffa Goh, General Manager with BPL, signed on behalf of his company.
Speaking at the occasion, Sekibo said the need for the partnership became imperative in view of the importance of agriculture to the sustainable development of Nigeria.
Sekibo said the initiative was taken to support the effort by the government towards diversifying the aggregate economy.
He assured the management of Biase Plantations Limited that Heritage Bank would not relent in giving the necessary financial and investment advisory support the latter required for the success of the agricultural scheme in different parts of the country, adding that the policy thrust of the present Federal Government is about economic development and diversification.
Goh said: “Today marks a milestone in the actualization of a long dream by Biase Plantations Limited. It has always been our priority to improve the socio-economic status of our landlord communities by developing an out-growers scheme that will build the resilience of local farmers to changing agricultural trend.”
Goh added that the agreement between BPL and Heritage Bank Plc was first of its kind in Nigeria, remarking that they see this as readiness on the part of the bank to partner and grow with the vision of the Company.
According to him, the outgrowers’ scheme is targeted at developing a sustainable small holder’s scheme, which will eventually increase the product supply.
The Group Head, Agric Finance & Export of Heritage Bank, Olugbenga Awe, explained that the pilot scheme covers 45 farmers grouped into four co-operative societies, with a land mass of 150 hectares and the funds to be administered is from BPL.
Specifically, Awe stated that Heritage Bank will leverage its expertise in agribusiness to organise the outgrowers and administer the fund bearing in mind the peculiarity of Oil Palm as a cash crop with long gestation period.
He also mentioned that the programme will ensure financial inclusion and empower the farmers, create market access for the farmers and increase their yield through trainings on sustainability and good agricultural practices.
PZ Wilmar Limited is a joint venture of PZ Cussons International, UK and Wilmar International Limited, Singapore.
In Nigeria, Wilmar is involved in oil palm cultivation with a total land hectare of 26,500 located in Akamkpa, Biase, Odukpani and Akpabuyo local government areas of Cross River State.
Other Wilmar’s business activities globally include Oilseed crushing, edible oil refining, sugar milling and refining, specialty fat, oleochemical, bodiesel and fertilizer manufacturing and grain processing.