Lagos — Heritage Bank has signed a N232 million Pilot Phase of Outgrower Agreement with Biase Plantations Limited (BPL) and its joint venture partner, PZ Wilmar Limited.
The pact, which was sealed at the bank's headquarters, at the weekend, saw the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, represented by Mr. Jude Monye, Executive Director, Business Banking, and; Mrs. Adaeze Udensi, Executive Director, Retail and SMEs, signing on behalf of the bank, while Mr. Ahmad Mustaffa Goh, General Manager with BPL, signed on behalf of his company.
Sekibo said the need for the partnership became imperative in view of the importance of agriculture for sustainable development of Nigeria, adding that the initiative was taken to support the effort by government towards diversifying the aggregate economy.
Group Head, Agric Finance and Export of Heritage Bank, Olugbenga Awe, explained that the pilot scheme covered 45 farmers, grouped into four cooperative societies, with a land mass of 150 hectares and that the funds to be administered was from Biase Plantations.
Heritage Bank will leverage its expertise in agri-business to organise the outgrowers and administer the funds bearing in mind the peculiarity of oil palm as a cash crop with a long gestation period.
Goh said the programme would ensure financial inclusion and empower the farmers, create market access for the farmers and increase their yield through trainings on sustainability and good agricultural practices.