Dollar now sells for N497 as Naira continues to slide

Expectations are high that the naira which depreciated at the parallel market on Friday as dollar scarcity worsened, may be seeing some respite as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) resumes dollar sales to Bureau De Change (BDC), operators this week.

The Nigerian currency exchanged for N497 to a dollar at the parallel market, losing two points from Thursdays posting; while the Pound Sterling and the Euro traded at N597 and 515 respectively.

“Plans by the CBN to resume dollar sales to BDC operators may offset some of the pressure on exchange rates at the parallel market,” one dealer wrote in a note to investors.

At the BDC window, the Naira was sold at N399 to a dollar, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N600 and N515, respectively.

Trading at the interbank market window saw the Naira close at N305.00 to a dollar.

Aminu Gwadabe, President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, expressed the hope that the Naira would bounce back this week.

Mr. Gwadabe said that the CBN would be selling about $25 million to BDCs this week and this would definitely help in reducing liquidity challenge in the Market.

He urged Nigerians not to panic as the CBN was working closely with the BDCs to ensure that the Naira recovers quickly.

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Heritage Bank to deepen support for agric value chain

Heritage Bank Plc has disclosed plans to revolutionise the agricultural value-chain field.

This is particularly in the rice farming that will enhance agribusiness and aid economic development byits direct participation in the much lauded Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Group Head, Agriculture Finance, Heritage Bank, Olugbenga Awe, in a speech delivered at 3rd edition of Rice Investment Summit in Abuja in collaboration with New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), said the bank’s drive to support rice production was borne out of the conviction that agribusiness is profitable and act of patriotism to achieve food security and sufficiency in the country.

He, however, noted that the challenges facing rice production were subset of myriads of constraints facing agriculture in general, as most farmlands are located in the rural areas with poor road network and electricity supply, majority are financially excluded with no access to banking services.

He hinted that Heritage Bank is effectively tackling the bottlenecks, since it has long identified the opportunities in agribusiness before the collapse of crude oil prices through its various programmes, which will contribute to the projection for year 2020 in the production of 7.7million metric tons of milled rice or 10.8 million metric tons of paddy rice at milling recovery ratio of 62 per cent.

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On the Heritage Bank’s involvement in ABP, Awe noted that the bank has strategically put in place measures to ensure fidelity to contract agreements and adherence to fair trade in making sure that farmers earn decent profit for their efforts, which is critical to the sustainability of the programmes.

According to him, the bank’s participation in the programme has paid off as we currently have a rich pool of farmers’ data to support grains production.

“The registered farmers in our database can easily be identified and trained with the support of extension services to plant any grains as the season demands. This flexibility provides continuous cash flows to the famers and ensure that more farmers are enlisted to join the programme,” he said.

The group head, further disclosed, “In our quest to participate in the rice value-chain through the ABP, we supported hundreds of small holder farmers in various communities in Kaduna and Zamfara State.”

Awe stressed that the prospect for rice production and agriculture was very bright, according to him, “the sector is driving the next set of entrepreneurs and we are committed to the development of the sector using appropriate technology and modern farm practices. We walk the talk in Heritage Bank as demonstrated in our portfolio allocation to agribusiness.”

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He affirmed that Heritage Bank would continuously create opportunities for people to see agriculture as a business that can lift them out of poverty into a prosperous future.

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