The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that it has partnered with Unity Bank and the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) to commence the distribution of seeds/inputs supplies to cotton farmers for the 2019 planting season.
The development which is in line with the country’s commitment to grow the economy through the revival of Agriculture as the major economic catalyst, is part of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
ABP is a CBN Agricultural Development finance initiative operated as an on-lending scheme with participating financial institutions packaged to channel financing support to beneficiaries in the sector. The partnership which was designed to support wet season farming is in recognition of the Bank’s established pivotal footprints in Agriculture.
The Executive Director, Corporate Planning & Compliance, Usman Abdulqadir, said CBN is partnering with Unity Bank on account of the lender’s strong participation in the ABP.
According to Abdulqadir, “Unity Bank’s strategy is to bank the agricultural value chain. Therefore, we finance primary production, agricultural processing as well as commodity trading. We also support agricultural mechanisation, agricultural services and the procurement of inputs and implements”.
He said “what is most noteworthy is that while other banks basically concentrate on lending to big value end of the agriculture value chain such as the flour and rice millers, Unity Bank does not leave out the small holders farmers who are in primary production”.
The National President of NACOTAN, Mr. Anibe Achimugu, said the Unity Bank and CBN programme would assist members in sourcing the right seeds to be delivered to cotton farmers at the right time. He noted that the association estimated seed cotton of between 60,000 and 80,000 tonnes was produced in 2018, hoping that this figure will be surpassed in 2019.
Achimugu believes the challenges facing the association, which include- poor seeds, poor timing or delivery of input, inadequate extension services, poor training and guidance, will be addressed through the participation with CBN and Unity Bank.