Sterling Bank becomes top financial institution as ACGSF rewards farmers
Sterling Bank was named the Best Participating Financial Institution for 2021 in the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Fund (ACGSF) on Thursday.
The ACGSF, at an event in Abuja, also recognized three agricultural entrepreneurs who took out loans and repaid under the scheme.
According to the ACGSF Board, Sterling Bank Plc’s participation in the ACGSF began in 2021, consistently providing financial and advisory support to farmers across the country.
“From January 2021 to December 2021, Sterling Bank has disbursed over N136.88 million to farmers under the ACGSF across the country,” he said.
Mr. Peter Okonkwo of IFGreen Industries and Investment Limited won the National Farmer of the Year award and went home with a prize of one million naira.
According to the ACGSF board, IFGreen, founded in 2016, took out an 8.050 million naira loan from Access Bank in 2018 for the purchase of agricultural plants and machinery.
“The company employs more than 60 direct people and about 100 indirect people.
“It generated revenue of around N15 million with a net operating cost of N2.7 million after reimbursement,” he said.
Almustapha Maigwandu Farms Limited came second and got a cash prize of N750,000 while third place went to Wuntin Dada Agro Farmers Limited with a prize of N500,000.
Mr. Stephen Okon, Chairman of the ACGSF Board, said the award was recognition for the effective use of loans by beneficiaries and for prompt repayment.
“The award is designed to act as an incentive for participating farmers and to pique the interest of others.
“It also gives us the opportunity to interact and communicate the objectives of the ACGSF.
“This comes at a propitious time when food security is a global issue, due to the Russian-Ukrainian war,” he said.
He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) acts as the secretariat and custodian of the fund.
According to Mr. Edwin Nzelu, Secretary of the Board of ACGSF, who also represented the Development Finance Department of the CBN, the award was introduced in the late 1970s.
Nzelu said the fund, which was suspended in the 1980s, was reintroduced in 2021.
He said the aim was to recognize farmers who have excelled in borrowing, using and repaying funds.
He said it was the only intervention program that was backed by an act of the National Assembly.
“It’s a contest, out of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), we only have three winners.
“Participating financial institutions that have distinguished themselves are also recognized,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ACGSF is a program run by the CBN, which provides guarantee cover to banks that lend to the agricultural sector.
The program aims to encourage banks to provide facilities for agricultural value chain activities.
It has an authorized share capital of N50 billion, of which 60% is under the control of the Federal Ministry of Finance and 40% is under the control of the CBN. (NOPE)