We’ll continue to support agric projects – Fidelity Bank

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Anna Okon

Fidelity Bank Plc has pledged to support ongoing efforts aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s agricultural value-chain by providing innovative funding schemes and technical advisory services to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and commercial agribusiness projects.

The Bank’s Head, Agric Division, OmobolaOdubanjo, said this in Lagos recently while delivering a keynote address at a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian-Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Fidelity Bank.

Odubanjo said the bank’s decision to move in this direction was driven by the sector’s huge potential to become a major foreign exchange earner and help boost the country’s revenue base.

“Nigeria is blessed with over 84 million hectares of arable land suitable for crop cultivation and livestock production. Only 40 per cent of that land mass is cultivated while one per cent is irrigated. Nigeria has a youthful population yet to be sufficiently engaged,” she said.

With a population of 180 million people, Odubanjo noted that the country has one of the largest economies in Africa with great opportunities for its agricultural, manufacturing and services activities.

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She urged attendees, some of who included investors, entrepreneurs and delegates from Netherlands-African Business Council, to take immediate advantage of the prevailing opportunities in the sector, assuring them of quick returns on investment.

Odubanjo, however, identified funding constraints, infrastructural bottlenecks, security, food storage and processing facilities, poor research and development, and unfriendly government regulations as some of the critical challenges hindering the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

She said the bank was well positioned to assist Dutch investors navigate Nigeria’s economy in relation to business matchmaking, facilitating links to market and liaison with regulatory agencies.

“Having the right partner makes doing business in Nigeria easy. We can also help you manage your trade risks through documentary collection, documentary credits via letter of credit, market research, enhancing your working capital and providing bonds and guarantees to support payment obligations.”

The Chairman, NNCC, Reginald Ihejiahi, said that Nigeria’s agricultural sector had high potential for growth, noting that this potential was, however, not being realised.

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“Let us be actively involved in agriculture for the economy of the nation to grow,” he said.

On her part, the Managing Director of AfricInvest, AbiolaOjo-Osagie, emphasised the importance of agriculture in the diversification of Nigeria’s economy, pointing out that the private investment company was established to promote and foster ideas that could drive the economy of the nation forward.

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