Heritage Bank partners Oyo State on economic diversification

By The Citizen

In line with the current drive by the government to diversify the economic and revenue base of the country, Heritage Bank and Oyo State Government have gone into a multi-billion naira partnership to revive agriculture and boost agro-allied businesses in the state.

Tagged, Oyo State Agricultural Initiative, OYSAI, the state government announced that the project is part of its revolution in the agricultural sector and a massive empowerment programme for both youth and women across the state.

Speaking at the launching of the project in Paago Village, along Igboho - Okeho road, last Tuesday, the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, explained that the state has 'successfully secured a viable partnership with some private investors and financial institutions to back up the project in the areas of poultry development, rice production and processing along the value chain.'

The governor thanked Heritage Bank and other partners for electing to support the project aimed at diversifying the state economy and drive self-sustainability by adding value to the lives of about one million beneficiaries. He added that the project will also reposition the state as the food basket of Nigeria and generate massive revenue for economic emancipation.

'Farming is attractive; we want to make it more attractive. The programme will create jobs, wealth and socio-economic productivity. It will link agriculture to small business and manufacturing. The programme will also improve the lot of women, youth and small scale businesses,' Ajimobi said.

The project, according to the governor, will spread across 3,000 hectares of land in 28 out of the 33 Local Government Areas of the State. He added that the project will be in three stages: food crop cultivation, cash crop/horticulture and food processing.

Under the arrangement, land, improved seedlings, fertizer, farming equipment will be made available to participants in the projects, while the banks will support willing agro investors with funds and advisory services.

The bank's Executive Director, Lagos, South West and Corporate Banking, Mrs. Mary Akpobome, who represented the Managing Director/CEO of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, at the launching stated that the project is in line with the bank's vision of partnering with individuals, organisations and governments to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations.

According to her, 'We believe that our youth are the future leaders that will positively reshape and reposition our country in the global environment, and Heritage Bank is committed to contributing her unending quota towards grooming them by facilitating enabling opportunities and platforms as this project.

'This programme will definitely lead to the creation of quality and sustainable employment and livelihood for the youth, which will in turn reduce the crime rate in the society,' she said.

Last month, in furtherance of its commitment to creating jobs and wealth, the bank launched a N500 million Young Entrepreneurs and Students (YES) Grant in Lagos. The initiative, which is in partnership with the Nigerian Youth Professional Forum (NYPF), will, according to the bank, support students and young entrepreneurs toward socio-economic freedom.

Before the latest initiative, Heritage Bank is also collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the CBN initiative, Youth Innovation Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP)