By Chioma Obinagwam
Heritage Bank Plc. has been bestowed the inaugural Nigeria Sustainable Banking Award convened by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “For Sustainable Transaction of The Year in Agriculture.”
The award which was in recognition of its outstanding success and leadership in Nigeria’s sustainable development in 2017 was presented to the bank recently during the Bankers Committee meeting held in Lagos.
The Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo in recognition of the award said,
“We are highly honoured to be awarded by the regulator as one of the most supportive financial institutions to the Agric sector, which is a key sector of the economy and this validates the hard work and success story of the bank to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations.”
According to him, Heritage Bank has continued to compliment the efforts of CBN by making funds available to both individuals and corporate organisations in their efforts to increase agricultural output.
He explained that the bank has taken the front seat in financing critical agricultural projects in several states in the country, especially in Oyo, Kaduna and Zamfara States.
Specifically, Sekibo explained, “The Award is in recognition of what we are doing with Biase Plantations Limited (BPL) a subsidiary of Wilmar International in supporting Oil Palm industry and Triton Aqua Africa Limited (TAAL) involved in aquaculture and reforestation projects.
“Being a Bank with sustainability as part of our DNA, our relationship with BPL that has sustainability as one of its core values provides a natural fit. The project is being implemented in full compliance with all relevant national legal requirements in Nigeria, following best international management practices, including compliance with requirements of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),” he disclosed.
The bank’s Group Head, Agriculture Finance, Olugbenga Awe explained further that the Heritage Bank is currently implementing an Outgrowers Scheme that is sustainable, fair, adapted to the local context and that will positively impact on the lives of the rural poor.
“The objective of the Outgrowers Scheme is to improve the livelihood of rural people, increase the product supply of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) to BPL and to help close the palm oil deficit in the Nigerian market with commitment to the ‘No Deforestation and No Exploitation policy’,” he said.
Awe also expressed the excitement about the prospects of working with CBN to expand the Anchor Borrowers Programme to cover cash crops such as Oil Palm and Cocoa.
According to him, our track records and experience in this field will be leveraged to offer a seamless rollout.
He, however stated that Heritage Bank was not only actualizing its vision of partnering with individuals, organisations and governments to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations, but is also playing a crucial role in helping to achieve the government’s ambition of diversifying the economy.