Nigerian agro-industrial company Agro Traders will soon receive a working capital facility of N2 billion ($5.55 million) to strengthen its cocoa processing and export capacities.
The information, published this weekend by The Punch newspaper, was confirmed by the management of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the public entity dedicated to agricultural risk coverage and committed to providing a guarantee of 50% of the loan. Under this scheme, the two lending institutions (Nexim Bank and UBA Group) will finance the purchase, storage, processing and annual export of 22,000 tonnes of cocoa beans from the company, which is based in the southwestern state of Ondo and is also active in the trade of cashew nuts, sesame, ginger and shea butter. Quoted in the local press, NIRSAL’s Managing Director, Aliyu Abdulhameed, confirmed that « the financing will also support the small cocoa producers who supply the product to the company[Agro Traders, NDLR], by offering a guaranteed market for their production each year ».
This announcement comes at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is now trying to revitalize agriculture to diversify an economy dependent on oil (90% of export revenues, 70% of government revenues). In particular the cocoa sector: the second largest producer in the world in the 1970s, the Nigerian sector (about 240,000 tonnes per year) has since declined steadily, to the benefit of Ivorian (1.47 million tonnes) and Ghanaian (895,000 tonnes) producers.