Unity Bank Plc will provide additional funding to 120,000 smallholder maize farmers in the 2021 wet season farming under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
The bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Tomi Somefun, disclosed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
Somefun made the pledge while delivering a goodwill message at the unveiling of the first National Maize Pyramids and kick-off of wet season farming programmes held recently in Katsina.
Unity Bank was invited to participate in the events marking the unveiling of the season by the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), as a major stakeholder in the apex bank ABP.
Somefun, was represented by the bank’s Head, Agribusiness, Mrs Patricia Ahunanya.
She said the additional funding for the 2021 wet season farming was in furtherance to the bank’s commitment toward supporting maize farmers in the country.
Somefun said the strategic partnership with the association commenced in 2019 with the financing of about 37,182 smallholder farmers.
She noted that the bank increased its financing tally to 70,604 smallholder farmers in 2020.
“The maize pyramids will go down in history as the first maize pyramid in Nigeria which demonstrates not only the resilience of our farmers but also the commendable vision of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the implementing partners.
“This should be replicated in all states with a focus on the crops that have comparative advantage.
“With agriculture contributing over 26 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP and employing about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s working population in the rural areas, the bank will continue to make strategic investments into the sector.
“Investments in line with the Federal Government’s quest to attain food sufficiency, diversify the economy away from oil, create jobs for the youth and reduce poverty.
“Unity Bank is fully committed to its partnership with MAAN and this commitment will ensure the attainment of the FGN/CBN target to meet self-sufficiency in maize production through the association,” she said.
The National President of MAAN, Dr Abubakar Bello, commended the bank for its continued support of the farmers through its strategic role in providing the necessary financing to the maize farmers.
Abubakar said: “We cannot appreciate our financing partners, especially Unity Bank. Today we have over 50,000 bags of maize in this pyramid, which will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s strategic grain reserves.
“This could not have been possible without the financing made possible by these partners. We commend them for this role and remain grateful,” he said.
Abubakar restated the commitment of the association to continue to meet the financing obligations and sustain the drive for increased maize output in the 2021 wet season farming.