British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Foundation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) with the aim of partnering with it to implement several of its agricultural programmes across the country. The ceremony took place at the West Africa head office of BAT in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, July 5, 2019.
The partnership is part of the Wealth is Here campaign, a joint initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria and British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation.
In her address, the Executive Director, British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Foundation, Abimbola Okoya said the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding underscores the commitment of both organizations to work together in attaining a joint mandate to promote sustainable development in Nigeria.
“I am excited about this partnership and the initiative because it has the youth at its core. Young people are the heartbeat of Nigeria, the future powerhouse of agriculture because they are everywhere. Hence, they should not be ignored because they are the thread in this fabric of society,” she said.
She added that the future of the nation “is threatened from food insecurity to unemployment,” noting that “as the largest employer of labour, agriculture is the fastest way to build an army of prosperous individuals.”
Speaking further, Okoya said that the Wealth is Health campaign of the BATNF is one of the 200 socio-economic development initiatives worth over N1.5 billion that have been implemented since BATNF was established in 2002.
She also expressed BATNF’s commitment to support sustainable agricultural development through its 2022 country programme funded with N700m.
In an address at the occasion, the Executive Director, BOA, Mr Olabode Abikoye, described BATN Foundation as a huge partner, while expressing willingness to support the initiative.
“We are honoured to be a part of this initiative. We are humbled that you deemed us a worthy partner to take this step with you. BATN Foundation is a huge partner for any corporate engagement. I am happy that BATN Foundation is identifying what the critical need is and is stepping into the gap to feel that need. I am also impressed that the Wealth is Health concept by BATN Foundation has a lot of thought-out initiatives. What BATN has done is to give hope to our teeming youths and convince them that they can prosper in Nigeria and don’t need to leave the country for greener pastures. We identify with that as a development finance institution that has a rural economy as our primary focus. We appreciate the gesture BAT has made,” he remarked.
Mr Abikoye further said that one of the crucial points the BOA has based its activities on is ensuring a reversal of the urban-rural migration and provide a tangible basis for rural folks to hope for better livelihoods.
“More importantly, it is about how we integrate the various segments of the value chain in agriculture and showcase the opportunities. So with the kind of support that the BATN Foundation is poised to provide to agropreneurs we can actually back it up with our support. Grants and facilitation of access to credit need to go together because the combination of the two will speak to the kind of cost of funds that these folks can aspire to that will make their ventures viable.
“This scheme by BATN Foundation will not only provide hope, it also has the potential of creating multipliers in the economy that can benefit not only individuals that have access to these services. We look forward to a profitable partnership with BATN Foundation. For me, profitability would be measured by the kind of impact that we were able to make collectively in the rural environment and in the crop and commodity value chains,” he added.
Earlier in a welcome address, the General Manager, BATN Foundation, Lolade Johnson-Agiri, said that the Wealth is Here campaign is intended to redeem Nigeria’s glorious past which was built on the pillar of a thriving agriculture. She noted that the BATN Foundation would take advantage of BOA’s technical strength to fully develop and promote the Wealth is Here initiative.
She remarked further that “The Wealth is Here initiative has identified some solutions to bridge the gap mitigating the involvement agropreneurs in this sector. We see a future where we will all thrive and survive. The Bank of Agriculture believes in this future too. In our partnership, BATN Foundation will leverage on BOA’s technical strength to fully develop and promote the Wealth is Here initiative. BOA will provide linkage to credit facilities for farmers or groups who emerge successful in our projects.”