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BoA, SunTrust Sign MoU To Reach Farmers, Customers

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The Bank of Agriculture (BoA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SunTrust Bank (STB) Nigeria Limited to reach no fewer than five million farmers across the country by 2020.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, while signing the MoU in Abuja on Monday, regretted that over the last 30 years, commercial banks had been unwilling to finance agriculture.
Ogbeh said the Federal Government had restructured BoA in such a way that agricultural lending would be easily repaid.
The minister said that the Information Technology (IT) services to be rendered by SunTrust Bank, would help the BoA to reach its customers.
“We have been trying to find funds to set up our IT services but the funds are not available.
“We are still pleading with the necessary authorities to reduce agriculture interest rates.
“There is no way any country can survive with 18 per cent interest rate and people need to feed well.
“I think BoA and our farmers will enjoy this partnership,’’ Ogbeh said.
The Managing Director of BoA, Mr Kabir Mohammed, said the partnership would enable the bank to reach and render quality services to its numerous farmers and customers across various communities.
According to him, with about 140 branches we have currently all over the country, there is need for us to partner with a commercial bank that can provide services that will reach our customers.
“The perception people have is that farmers are not intelligent but we know that our customer knows what a quality service is.
“In local governments where we have branches, some of our customers travel like 50 kilometres to reach our branches but with this partnership, it will be easier and services will be brought to their door steps.
“This is the era of electronic business and we are limited by regulation, we cannot issue cheque books on our own, we cannot issue ATM cards directly, we need to go through a commercial bank.
“What we have seen today is one of those partnerships that the bank intends to undertake with other banks.
“The SunTrust bank is new and small but with robust IT infrastructure.
“We are going to leverage on that to ensure that our customers that are financially excluded, can benefit from this.
“Farmers will now be able to use ATM cards to access funds and our corporate customers will now have access to cheque books,’’ Mohammed said.
The Chief Executive Officer of SunTrust Bank, Mr Muhammad Jibrin, said the bank would offer Information Technology Services to the BoA to be able to reach their customers in the remote areas.
“We are in the digital age so reaching people is actually by digital means. Our systems are up and running.

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Agriculture

SMEDAN Begins 2023 Registration For Loans, Grants, Others

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Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigerian (SMEDAN) has commenced the 2023 registration for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to make them eligible for a range of benefits, including loans, grants, government assistance, and other resources for the year.
The opportunity was made known through the Director General of SMEDAN Mr Olawale Fasanya in their website.
Fasanya said the opportunity would help to grow small businesses and also provide access to benefits that will support them, as well as make resources available to help SMEs succeed.
“Loans can provide a small business with the necessary capital to start or expand operations. Loans can be customised to meet the specific needs and goals of a business.
“Making timely loan payments can help a business improve its credit score, which can be useful when seeking a loan or future investment.
“With access to capital, businesses may be able to pursue new opportunities for growth and expansion”, he said.
He advised small and medium enterprises to take advantage of the SMEDAN support by becoming more competitive in their respective markets.
“It can help small businesses access resources, such as funding and training, that may not be available to them.
“It can provide opportunities for small business owners to connect with other businesses and industry experts, resulting in valuable partnerships and collaborations”, he said.
According to the SMEDAN DG, the specific requirements and procedures for registering a small or medium business with SMEDAN vary, depending on the nature of one’s business and its location in Nigeria.
Plays a vital role in supporting the development of small and medium enterprises in nigeria. through its various programmes, it can provide businesses with access to capital, resources and expertise that can help them grow and succeed.
“SMEDAN’s efforts benefit both the private and government sectors, as small and medium enterprises are important drivers of economic growth and job creation”, Fasanya said, “SMEDAN.

By: Lilian Peters

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Agriculture

FG Boosts Farming In Bauchi With New Dam

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The Federal Government has constructed an earth dam and provided inputs to farmers in Bauchi State.
This is in a bid to curb clashes among farmers and herders in the area.
The government also embarked on land clearing activities to boost agricultural production in the state and its environs.
Disclosing this in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, the Executive Secretary, National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Paul Ikonne, said the dam and inputs were provided to farmers in Azare Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
He said the dam would cater for the water needs of over 10,000 animals, and serve as irrigation facility for more than three villages in the area, adding that NALDA would provide solar-powered pumping machines to pump water to neighbouring farms.
In the statement, NALDA said tractors and site workers were currently ensuring that the dam was completed within the stipulated time frame of two weeks.
It read in part, “In an interaction with farmers from the area in Gamawa, the Executive Secretary of NALDA, Paul Ikonne, said the project is aimed at ensuring availability of water for irrigation and animal husbandry in order to curb farmers and herders clashes across the country.”
It stated further that the representative of the District Head of Gamawa, Mohammed Babayo, who spoke on behalf of the farmers, appreciated the government for the dam.
Babayo, however, called on NALDA to further support farmers in the area with inputs such as improved seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and access roads.
He said the farmers were willing to provide more land for clearing and were ready for more partnership with NALDA, stressing that it was the first time the villages would feel the presence of the Federal Government.
Babayo told the NALDA team that all agricultural activities in the area were based on collective efforts of the farmers.

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Agriculture

Rice Cultivation: New Policy To Facilitate 2.7m Hectares -Minister

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The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, has said the recently launched National Rice Development Strategy II (NRDS II) Nigeria is aimed at increasing the rice area under irrigation from less than 1 million hectares to 2.7 million hectares, particularly areas under supplementary water supply to attain 2 cropping per year.
Shehuri said this while launching NRDS II in Abuja recently, noting that the rice value chain has been identified as being strategic to achieving food and nutrition security.
According to Shehuri, the document presented at the launching showed that cultivable land in the country is estimated at 4.234 million hectares, made up of rain-fed uplands at 30 percent, rain-fed lowland at 52 percent, irrigated lowlands at 17 percent and mangrove at 1 percent
He stated that the new Strategy also targets to build the capacity of 84,000 extension agents and 12 million farmers on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Sustainable Rice Production (SRP).
“Part of its goal is to increase on a sustainable basis the volume of rice paddy produced, stored-up and marketed in Nigeria to meet the widening annual national demand and surpluses for export in the long run, and to improve the livelihoods of rice-dependent households in the country.
“The document further noted that the objectives of the new Strategy is to bring more of Nigeria’s potential rice areas into cultivation through land development and make more rice land available.
“Enhance the productivity of existing cultivated areas through increased adoption of GAP for sustainable rice production and closing the yield gaps existing between farmers;
“Promote the adoption and use of climate-smart technologies and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emission from rice fields and increase the resilience or adaptation to climate change impact
“To promote the adoption of SRP standards to mitigate the negative impact on the biophysical and social environment of rice production. Enhance farmer’s access to quality agro-inputs and their optimal use at a realistic cost”, he stated.
The new Rice Strategy also aims at increasing average yield to 4.0 tons per hectare for rain-fed upland, 6.0 tons per hectare for rain-fed lowland and 7.5 tons per hectare for irrigated ecology through the introduction of new high-yielding climate-smart rice varieties.
According to report, “NRDS II document is a ten-year plan which seeks to provide direction for the development of the rice subsector to achieve government’s goals of self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation and production of surplus for export”.

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