ADB restructuring to refocus on agric financing — MD

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The Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) is restructuring its operations to enable it to refocus on agricultural financing, the Managing Director of the bank, Dr John Kofi Mensah, has said.

He said the bank had expanded its Agriculture Department into an Agricultural Business Division, headed by a general manager, and also decentralised the division with dedicated agricultural desk officers at selected branches nationwide.

“The Agribusiness Division has been departmentalised into Agricultural Value Chain and Agricultural Services Department, which captures all the sectors in agriculture.

The department is available to facilitate loans and offer advisory services to customers in the crops, livestock, poultry, marine, cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits and other export commodities,” Dr Mensah explained.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic at a ceremony in Accra last Wednesday at which a cheque for GH¢480,000 was presented to the 2018 National Best Farmer, Mr James Obeng Boateng, as his prize money, Dr Mensah said the bank had also elevated the Loans Monitoring and Recovery Department to a division, also headed by a general manager, to strengthen the monitoring of loans.

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Refocusing

The ADB boss said until the end of 2017, the bank’s focus on agriculture was minimal, but since then “ the ADB has repositioned itself to be more responsive to supporting agriculture in the country”.

He explained that from an initial loan portfolio of 20 per cent for the agricultural sector, the bank could now boast a 50 per cent loan portfolio for the sector.

“So what we have to do is expand the department, and that is why we have changed from a department to a division. So the direction the bank is going means that we are refocusing on agriculture, as our core mandate tells us,” he explained.

Sponsorship of Farmers Day

Dr Mensah announced that so far the bank had spent $1.8 million as the headline sponsor of the National Farmers Day celebrations over the last 15 years.

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The amount, he explained, was invested in building 15 two-bedroom houses in various locations in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.

He said that amount excluded the sponsorship of the National Farmers Forum and welcome cocktail.

Until 2018, the National Best Farmer was given the option to decide the region where a house should be built for him/her, but the formula changed last year when it was decided that the winner should determine what the prize money should be used for.

Business proposal

In view of that, Mr Boateng, the recipient of the prize money for 2018, submitted a business proposal to the bank to use part of the money to improve his 1,000-acre farm at Nyinase, near Nkoranza in the Bono East Region, and part to build a two-bedroom farm house, buy a tractor and four polytanks and also dig four mechanised boreholes.

He also intends to employ 30 more workers, clear five acres of land with bulldozers, purchase seeds, feed and medications, buy tricycles, as well as repair access roads to his farm.

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Speaking about his contribution to his community as the National Best Farmer, Mr Boateng said he had been able to lobby the government to build a three-classroom block on his farm for the children in the community and of the farm workers.

The 2018 Best Farmer said he had been able to influence some senior corporate persons to develop interest in farming, adding that his success story was affecting people positively.

Mr Boateng believed that he had become an advocate for agriculture and pledged to continue with the endeavour, even after his tenure as the National Best Farmer.

Dr Mensah, in response, commended Mr Boateng for focusing on activities that would not only benefit his farm but also the community in which he operated and pledged the bank’s commitment to support the Farmers Day celebration as its contribution to ensuring food sufficiency, as well as ensuring that the agricultural sector remained the backbone of the national economy.

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He called on farmers and fishermen to visit any of the ADB’s 81 locations nationwide and “engage our dedicated staff for further insights into our agricultural packages”.

Innovation

For his part, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, expressed happiness that the prize money was being invested in other areas that were beneficial to an entire community.

He tasked the headline sponsors to take another look at the prize package, such that “by the next awards we would have advanced further along this path of trying to create a situation where the award winner actually takes up strong leadership in the community”.

Dr Akoto urged the ADB to visit the original objectives for which the bank was created to support the agricultural sector to grow to the envisaged level.