Sterling Bank plans N3bn funding for smallholder farmers

Sterling Bank Plc will advance smallholding  agriculture value chain with a likely N3 billion in the Anchors Borrowers Programme (ABP), next year.

The ABP is aimed at creating economic linkages between over 600,000 smallholder farmers and large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilisation of integrated mills to help create more jobs, reduce food imports and diversify the economy.

Group Head, Agric and Export Finance, Bukola Awosanya, told the Nigerian Tribune in an interview on Tuesday at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos that the bank plans to expand its original 5,000 farmers base in Kebbi State to 10,000 or more in the coming year.

“We think we can do 10,000 to 20,000 farmers, but we will take it a step at a time,” she said, adding that the bank was prepared to increase the farmers’ hectarage from one to three or more.

Sterling Bank is the first commercial bank in Nigeria to partner the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the programme, since it launched in November 2015.

Awosanya said the bank had so far disbursed more than N1 billion since January 2016, adding that the bank aims to expand its reach to cover more farmers in Kebbi State, as well as other states in Nigeria.

Currently, Sterling Bank works with farmers in five states in country and plans to reach more states as time goes on.

Other agric products from the bank include Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACs), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) fund, Sterling Agricultural Input Scheme (SAIS), Sterling Tractor Acquisition Scheme (STAS) and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL).