Green fields as far as the eye can see, sheep peacefully roaming the pastures, and golden Irish butter spread on toast. Around 65% of all land in Ireland is used for agricultural purposes. The agri-food sector employs almost 170 000 people and accounts for around 5% of the country’s economy. However, despite farmers’ high productivity, their incomes are often lower than those in other economic sectors.

Only seven in ten loan applications made by farmers in Ireland are successful. This is below the EU average, according to a recent report by EIB Advisory based on a survey of over 6 000 farms.

To encourage the growth and resilience of agricultural enterprises in the country, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the EIB Group launched a new loan guarantee scheme. The SBCI is Ireland’s national promotional institution, created to help commercial banks and non-bank lenders provide affordable financing to SMEs. The EIB Group, in turn, provides more financial firepower to help the SBCI and the banking sector offer more finance to clients across Ireland.

The most recent loan scheme developed with the EIB Group is a little bit different, in that there’s a special focus on climate action and environmental sustainability.” says Sean Farrell, in charge of products, marketing and research at the SBCI.

Through the SBCI’s network of intermediary lenders, Ireland’s farmers have access to the Growth and Sustainability Loan Scheme, backed by an EIB Group guarantee. The scheme will make up to €500 million in long-term lending available to Irish SMEs, including farmers. The loans of between €25 000 and €3 million are granted at reduced interest rates, for terms of up to 10 years. Launched in September 2023, the scheme will power the Irish agriculture sector while helping farmers become greener and more resilient.

Another interesting aspect of this scheme is that we could benefit from the advisory support of the EIB, which was key for integrating the Green Checker into our customer interface.

Sean Farrell

Head of products, marketing and research at the SBCI

The award-winning Green Eligibility Checker is the EIB’s flagship online tool that lets intermediary clients assess the eligibility and climate impact of investment projects across multiple sectors, in just a few clicks. It also helps the financial industry report on green investments.

We work with retail banks who are really focused on ‘digital first.’ So being able to partner with the Bank’s Advisory Services helped us to step up our game and integrate the Green Checker into our customer hub, offering our intermediaries and clients — Irish farmers — a smooth and cohesive customer journey,” Farrell says.

Integrating the Green Checker into the SBCI’s customer interface allows intermediary bank clients, farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs to check whether projects are eligible for the Growth and Sustainability Loan Scheme. They can also see whether investments qualify for EIB support in areas of climate action and environmental sustainability.

The Green Checker helps our clients understand what we consider to be a green investment,” says Theda Fuchs, EIB deputy head of division leading the financing operation with the SBCI. “Integrating the tool into the SBCI’s customer interface brings even greater added value. This flexible tool can be tailored to meet the needs of different clients and geographies, greatly simplifying the assessment of projects. It saves the SBCI and Irish commercial banks a lot of time, getting the loans delivered faster to Irish SMEs and farmers.


The version of the Green Checker developed for the SBCI covers more than 40 measures, ranging from harvester or tractor replacement, to installation of renewable energy sources, to energy efficiency of buildings. Its output is adjusted to the country’s specific features, giving a more accurate climate impact measurement for the measures being checked in terms of energy savings or CO2 emissions.

We’re very happy to contribute to the efficient rollout of the Growth and Sustainability Loan Scheme with the integration of our Green Checker into the SBCI’s systems,” says Frank Lee, head of financial intermediary advisory at the EIB. “It’s good to see our advisory services and products helping farmers to more quickly and easily determine whether their projects are eligible for support, even before they go to their local bank for financing.”