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BoI lifts agric sector with N10bn for SMEs to deepen food security, job creation

The Bank of Industry (BoI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with three international development partners for the growth of the country’s agricultural sector using the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Details of the deal sealed in Abuja show that the bank will provide up to N10bn to SMEs in the agricultural sector as part of the federal government’s diversification drive.

In his remarks after the signing, Acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said the agreement was a testimony of the bank’s support for the development of the agriculture sector.

While noting that the bank’s passion for the sector is born out of the conviction that it holds the key to the diversification of the nation’s economy at a time of dwindling oil revenue, he argued that the deal is coming on the agreement, that the bank would provide up to N10bn exclusively for the acquisition of agro-equipment by either agricultural service providers or well-established farmers.

It would be recalled that the N10bn for the sector was the largest which the bank had earmarked for any programme, as it would be repaid within a five year period by beneficiaries at a nine per cent interest rate.

Olagunju also added that micro enterprises would be able to access up to N10m; small enterprises, between N10m and N50m; while medium-scale entrepreneurs could access above N50m but not exceeding N500m.

According to him, “In recognition of the catalytic role that agro-processing plays in boosting good production, BoI, in collaboration with development partners, has designed a programme to provide finance for agro-equipment service providers and well-established farmers as well”.

“It is envisaged that with better access to credit to fund acquisition of agro-equipment, there will be improved efficiency and production output in the agricultural sector.

“A N10bn fund has been earmarked for the acquisition of agro-equipment and it is the largest amount of money that the bank has earmarked for any programme and this is a testimony to the importance of agro-mechanisation in economic development of Nigeria.”

BoI boss disclosed further that through the programme, the bank would be able to create 10,000 direct jobs and 30,000 indirect jobs, making a total of 40,000 jobs within the period.

In his speech, the Executive Director, Corporate Services, BoI, Mr. Jonathan Tobin, said that through the initiative, the country’s food import bill would be reduced as local food security will be deepened in the process.