Sterling Bank Plc has joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s World Food Day (WFD) as part of its effort to tackle hunger and promote a more food-secure and prosperous Africa.
The day is celebrated on October 16 every year to mark the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1945. The theme of this year’s celebration is: Our actions are Our Future – Better production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life.
Commenting on this year’s celebration, Divisional Head, Agric & Solid Minerals Finance, Bukola Awosanya, said in a statement issued by the bank that, “At Sterling Bank, we are more than convinced that agriculture holds the promise for a more food-secure and prosperous Africa and that is why the Bank has selected the sector as one of its areas of strategic focus, dedicating over 10 percent of its entire lending portfolio to it.”
She added that the Bank’s agricultural strategy revolves around Digitisation, Agility and Specialisation – which includes Agriculture. “The Bank’s agric-financing interventions span Pre-Upstream Inputs such as fertiliser, seeds, agrochemicals; and Upstream Primary Production such as crops, livestock, aquaculture, to Midstream Value Addition (i.e. processing) and Downstream (i.e. marketing and trading). The Bank’s agricultural loan book exceeds $150 million.”
The Divisional Head said Sterling Bank sees the smallholder farmers segment in the agric sector as strategic to ensuring food security on the continent and that is why the Bank has financed over 80,000 smallholder farmers till date, primarily under input finance for agricultural production activities.
Sterling Bank continues to engage in valued collaboration and development partnerships to enhance access to finance in the micro, small and medium scale agribusinesses in Nigeria. The bank supports youth and women in agriculture through its SWAY-Agfin product. SWAY-Agfin is a specially designed single digit interest fund open to youth and women interested in agribusiness.
The Divisional Head also said the Bank has also championed other interventions such as the Agric Summit Africa (ASA), a yearly event that brings players in the value chain and stakeholders in the agriculture sector together for conversations, deliberations and policy engagements that can drive growth in the industry and facilitate a diverse thought leadership.
Besides, Awosanya noted that SABEX, the Bank’s digital commodities trading and financing ecosystem, is also positioned to unlock efficiency and productivity in the commodities and supply chain ecosystem. This will ultimately drive down cost and food prices, she said.
She remarked that as the theme rightly puts it, “Our actions are our future. If we produce better, we will have a better nutrition, a better environment and a better life. We must act differently; we must act now.”