THE Board Chairman of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Mr Paul Koranteng, has given the assurance that the bank will continue to provide financial support to farmers and fishermen at interest rates that are below the bank’s base rate.
According to him, the decision of the bank to lower its base rate for farmers was to encourage the youth, without the needed collateral, to attract credit from the bank.
“We believe that food security is national security and we will continue to pursue programmes that will help sustain local food production and help generate employment for the youth,” he stressed.
Mr Koranteng gave the assurance at the ADB Berekum branch relocation ceremony in the Berekum Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region yesterday.
ADB, which has been operating in the Berekum Municipality for the past three decades, decided to relocate the Berekum branch to create a conducive atmosphere for customers to conduct their banking transaction with ease, since the old premises had become inconvenient due to the branch’s growing customer base.
Mr Koranteng used the opportunity to remind the people of Berekum that the bank had introduced a special scheme for young farmers dubbed “Young Farmers Programme” to encourage the youth between the ages of 18 and 35 to accept agriculture as a business.
He added that the programme had been designed to enhance incomes of farm families in the rural areas, replace the ageing agricultural labour force, reduce the high rate of youth unemployment, and to increase food security at the household level.
Mr Koranteng therefore advised the youth to form groups for the purpose of engaging in agricultural ventures in order to qualify to access the benefits under the programme.
He disclosed that the stock of loans for the various sectors in the Berekum area had grown from GH¢3.9 million as at the end of May 2008, adding that as many as 3,600 farmers, foodstuffs traders and workers were the beneficiaries.
The ADB Board Chairman stated further that 1,800 farmers in the cashew sub-sector were currently enjoying facilities amounting to over GH¢884,494 compared to GH¢6,145 in December 2006, and that in spite of the many challenges in the area of agricultural financing, the ADB would continue to provide support for sub-sectors such as cashew, cocoa maintenance, foodstuff marketing and forestry.
As part of the social responsibility of the bank, Mr Koranteng said the bank had decided to provide financial support for the refurbishment of the delivery and maternity ward of the Berekum Holy Family Hospital, which was currently in a bad condition.
In a speech read on behalf of Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Nana Abraham Kwadwo Kwakye, reiterated that the government had not taken any firm decision on the sale of ADB.
He stated that even when a decision was eventually reached, it was not envisaged that the business of the bank would in any way be disrupted. He therefore urged customers of the bank to continue to have confidence in their dealings with the bank.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour bemoaned the high loan default rate associated with agricultural financing, and said the onus was on both the financing institution and the loan beneficiaries to utilise the credit judiciously to prevent a high default rate.
He appealed to the people of Berekum and its surrounding towns and villages to give ADB their fullest support by patronising the services of the branch and urged the branch management to also consider tailoring their services to the peculiar needs of the local area.
Mr Yaw Opoku Atuahene, the Managing Director of the ADB, for his part said the bank was not only relocating its branch, but to also put together all the necessary facilities required to make banking enjoyable to the customers of the branch.
The Omanhene of Berekum Traditional Area, Daasebre Amankona Diawuo ll, who chaired the function, in his remarks expressed his gratitude to the ADB for contributing towards the total development of Berekum, as well as its decision to rehabilitate the maternity ward of the hospital.
— Story: Samuel Duodu, Berekum