STERLING REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO AGRICULTURE AT FIFTH ASA
(CEO) Mr. Abubakar Suleiman
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman
has said the bank is ready and willing to invest more in Nigeria’s
agricultural sector, having invested more than N100 billion; a figure that
represents about 15 percent of the bank’s total loans portfolio.
The CEO stated this in his closing remarks at the Agriculture Summit Africa
(ASA) 2022 with the theme: “Engineering a Trillion Dollar Agricultural
Economy,” which held recently both physically and virtually with more than
10,000 attendees from across the world.
Agriculture is one of the five sectors of the economy that the bank has
focused its investments since 2018 as part of her HEART of Sterling
strategy. The others are health, education, transportation, and renewable
Suleiman observed that apart from the Bank of Agriculture, he could not
think of any other financial institution that has committed its resources
to agricultural financing like Sterling Bank
“When we started the journey about five years ago, we were very clear in
our minds that we did not just want to make it a talk show and we have been
changing the focus of the conversation from moving away from identifying
problems to providing solutions and now we are bringing stakeholders
together in a bid to effectively move the conversation forward with action.
“We started it because we wanted to focus on agricultural financing where
there was a significant gap. Every time we meet a stakeholder or a
regulator, we noticed a different perspective of what the problem was and
therefore it became clear to us that if we do not bring all the
stakeholders together to harmonise their views and understanding, we will
continue to remain in the dark,” he said.
The CEO noted that the summit became imperative as part of the global
conversation on food security due to the consequences of global trade which
was so obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic when there was a global
disruption in the supply chain.
“So, this conversation about food security in Africa is one that we will
continue to sponsor because of its existential purpose which is about
leveraging our competitive advantage,” he said.
The Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) is one of the continent’s leading,
privately funded platforms dedicated to increasing the value of the
agribusiness value chain by creating a convergence of private and public
sector interests, development finance institutions, agribusiness investors
This year’s edition, proudly supported by esteemed partners such as Leadway
Assurance, Thrive Agric, GIZ, Nestle Nigeria PLC, Stears Data, GIZ, Noor
Takaful, and 2Scale, amongst others, featured four panels over two days of
deliberations, with discussions on solving the challenge of import
substitution for large scale manufacturers by facilitating the sourcing of
key inputs locally, achieving sustainable productivity at scale; increasing
the adoption of technology to improve output as well as discussions on a
framework to standardize agro-commodities trade and exchange to increase
the value created in the sector and open up new investment opportunities.
The two-day event also featured key stakeholders and players from the
agribusiness value chain such as Yemisi Iranloye of Psaltry International,
Ayo Arikawe from Thrive Agric, Adetola Adegbayi of Leadway Assurance, Mira
Mehta of Tomato Jos, Elenwor Ihua of the Nigerian Commodities Exchange,
Femi Aiki of Foodlocker, Akin Akeredolu-Ale of the Lagos Commodities and
Futures Exchange, Maxwell Olitsa of 2Scale, Sandy Eyal of CropIT, Victoria
Madedor of AgroVerified, Taiwo Ayoade of Plantation Industries amongst
other experts drawn from a diverse cross-section of the sector.
The Country Manager of Netherlands-based bank, Rabobank, Mr. Kevin Kabatsi,
in his keynote address, talked about how the bank is using agriculture
exchange to create a digital marketplace in countries where it operates.
In her goodwill message, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms.
Abisola Olusanya, encouraged youths that are seeking greener pastures
outside the shores of the country to have a rethink because opportunities
abound in the country because of gaps in the agricultural value chain.
She also said Lagos State can only produce 15,000 tonnes of red meat yearly
but consumes more than 342,000 tonnes of red meat with transaction value of
N350 billion sitting on the table which nobody is picking up.
The ASA, proudly hosted by Sterling Bank, is the largest private sector
funded summit on agriculture on the continent, dedicated to discussing and
uncovering practical solutions to the region’s unique challenges,
facilitating transactions between investors and agric-focused ventures by
highlighting opportunities in the sector for the benefit of public and
private interests and the nation’s economy.