Heritage Bank Plc in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria has provided N2bn long-term facility under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme to Triton Aqua Africa Limited.
The TAAL, known as Triton Farm, accessed the CACS through Heritage Bank.
The lender, in a statement on Monday, said the loan was used to set up aquaculture business. These include nursery/hatchery for the production of fingerlings and brood stock in Ikeja, and earthen ponds for catfish and tilapia in Asejire, Iwo and Gambari towns in Oyo State.
According to Heritage Bank, the move is part of its efforts to further support the real sector and unlock the country’s food potential.
It said the beneficiary company’s strategy was to embrace backward integration through production of fish locally and reduce its importation of frozen fish.
The initiative, the lender added, also assisted small-scale farmers by producing quality breed fingerlings.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator, Heineken Lokpobiri, during a tour of Triton Farms commended the firm, while stating that the CBN and Heritage Banks’ financial support to the company’s achievement was fundamental as investment in food security is probably the most profitable venture anyone could think of.
According to the minister, Nigeria has a deficit of over two million metric tonnes of poultry produce, and over three million metric tonnes deficit in fish farming products, adding that the agro-production deficits show huge investment potential in the sector.
He therefore called on banks to finance more of agricultural projects than trading, and oil and gas.
The Group Head, Agric Finance, Heritage Bank, Olugbenga Awe, stated that the partnership between the bank and Triton Farm would conserve scarce foreign exchange and enhance food security.
“Nigeria’s current demand capacity for fish is estimated at 2.7 million metric tonnes and the country currently produces 800,000 metric tonnes. Triton is now producing 25,000 metric tonnes and with them on board, about 25,000 metric tonnes capacity will be added to our current production, the company’s projection is to reach 100,000 metric tonnes in five years,” he said.
Awe stressed that Heritage Bank’s support for small-scale enterprises was well known and most of the SMEs play in the agric sector.
According to him, the bank sees agriculture as one of its heritage that could empower individuals and communities in terms of creating wealth from the soil and through the entire value –chain using value addition and industrialisation.
He added, “We have supported large corporates such as Triton in expanding their capacity and boosting import substitution. We have also supported exporters that export commodities or process goods which ultimately conserve scare foreign exchange and enhance our balance of trade.
“We are also focused on small-holder farmers as we currently support thousands of farmers in Kaduna and Zamfara States in rice and soybeans production under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“We are also targeting the youth that are interested in agriculture through our partnership with the CBN on Youths Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme.”
The Chairman, Triton Group, Ashvin Samtani, said the farm was fully integrated in aquaculture, poultry and crop production.
“Triton Farm is designed to train youth in agriculture and create employment, as well as generate wealth. This is the only farm in the whole region that is fully integrated in aquaculture, poultry and crop production,” he affirmed.
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