Heritage Bank provides N2bn loan for aquaculture project
In a bid to further support the real sector and unlock the nation's food potential, Heritage Bank Plc in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has provided a N2 billion long term facility, under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, to Triton Aqua Africa Limited.
TAAL, known as Triton Farm accessed the CACS through Heritage Bank, which will be used to set up aquaculture businesses, including nursery/hatchery for the production of fingerlings and brood stock in Ikeja, and earthen ponds for catfish and tilapia in Asejire and Gambari in Oyo State as well as in Iwo, Osun State.
The company's strategy is to embrace backward integration through production of fish locally to reduce importation of frozen fish and assist small scale farms by producing quality breed fingerlings.
According to a statement by TAAL, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, during a tour at Triton Farms commended the firm. He stated that the CBN and Heritage Bank's financial support to the company was fundamental as investment in food security was the most profitable venture anyone could think of.
He, however pointed out that Nigeria had 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 showed huge investment potential in the sector.
He further urged banks to finance more of Agricultural projects than trading, oil and gas etc., as the future was highly dependent on Agriculture.
The Group Head, Agriculture Finance of Heritage Bank, Olugbenga Awe, stated that the partnership between the bank and Triton Farms to boost local production would conserve scarce foreign exchange and enhance food security.
'Nigeria's current demand capacity for fish is estimated at 2.7million 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 5 years,' he said.
Awe stressed that Heritage Bank's support for small scale enterprises was well known, saying that most SMEs play in the agric sector.
According to him, the bank takes agriculture as one of its heritage that can empower individuals and communities in terms of creating wealth from the soil and through the entire value - chain using value addition and industrialization.
He further disclosed, '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 processed goods which ultimately conserve scarce FX and enhance our balance of trade.
'We are also focused on small holders' 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 youths that are interested in agriculture through our partnership with CBN on Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme.'
In his remarks, the Chairman, Triton Group, Ashvin Samtani, said the farm was fully integrated in aquaculture, poultry and crop production and is a platform to create employment for the teeming youths.
'Triton Farms 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. - Thisday.