The Bank of Industry (BoI) has concluded plans to increase lending to stakeholders in the food industry, as part of measures to boost food production in the country and help the Federal Government achieve the 3.5 per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) target in 2018.
Indeed, the Development Finance Institution (DFI) noted that most developed economies of the world have been able to transform their economies by prioritizing developmental efforts towards productive sectors, saying that to achieve the 3.5 per cent GDP, additional financial support must be channelled to different productive sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The Managing Director, BoI, Olukayode Pitan during the bank’s Food Processing Group customers’ forum, explained that manufacturing is the back bone for economic growth while also assuring that 2018 would be a good year for manufacturing in Nigeria.
The BoI boss who was represented by the Bank’s Executive Director, Large Enterprises, Simon Aranonu said plans are underway to raise its current risk asset worth over N650 billion with an additional N350 billion to support the real sector of the economy while also increasing its balance sheet by 50 per cent in 2018.
In his words, “We can only grow the GDP if we support food processors like you. We will continue to mobilize resources within and outside the country to support the real sector of the economy. We want to do more in 2018. Working together we will be able to feed the nation, increase employment generation, conserve our hard earned foreign exchange and create wealth for the country.”
Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Agrotek Value Chains Agent Limited, Paul Eluhaiwe, said the food industry is working hard to achieve food security in Nigeria, stating that in 2018, rice production is expected to reach about 8.1 million metric tonnes surpassing the nation’s annual demand of 6.1 million metric tonnes.
According to him, there has been an increase in the consumption of locally produced goods, saying that this had stimulated lots of activities in the food sector.
He however called on the bank to seek ways to support the sector with single digit interest rates, stressing that no sector would be able to thrive with interest rate at double figures.
The Managing Director, Beloxxi Industry Limited, Obi Ezeude, added that the unavailability of long term finance is still a major hindrance to entrepreneurial development and industrialisation in Nigeria.
He recommended that cheap long term loans is critical for the growth and development of Nigeria’s manufacturing sector.