The Akwa Ibom government has a N5.5 Billion agribusiness centre as part of efforts to provide responsive training services for the development of agro-allied industry in the country.
The state commissioner for trade investment, Ukpong Akpabio unveiled the centre during the Agric roundtable jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Akwa Ibom State government and the federation of agricultural commodity associations of Nigeria held in Uyo, the state capital.
According to the organisers, it is an opportunity to “set a clear path for the realisation of the potentials in agriculture as well as explore new opportunities and possibilities for the youths, women and the investors in the agricultural sector.’’
Experts say the agribusiness and agro-industry hold the key to the future of Nigeria’s economy explaining that engaging the youthful population is the only security for a stable and prosperous future by tapping the potentials in agriculture.
Unveiling the centre at the event which was attended by key stakeholders in the industry across the country, Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State commissioner for Trade and Investment described the move as an important step towards the empowerment of the people and expressed delight towards the contribution of the Agric sector to the nation’s economy.
He said the centre would help in the development of technology for use by farmers.
Ukpong who received an award of honour for Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State for his contributions to the development of agriculture also received an award on behalf of the minister of state for trade and investment, Miriam Katagum and pledged the support of the state government towards the realisation of the benefits of the innovation centre.
“I am delighted to receive the award on behalf of Governor Udom Emmanuel, it is commonly seen that the governor has transformed the agriculture in the state as he done a lot in the area of investment in agriculture, we were made to believe that tomatoes, onions and cucumber cannot be grown here, but that is no longer tenable, we are processing coconut oil and we are doing more,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the coordinator of NAADI, South-South zone of the country said the core mandates of organisation include promotion of export trade in agro-industrial projects, diversification of productive base of the nation’s economy through agro-industrial enterprise and promotion of profitability of agribusinesses among others.
He said the centre when completed would address the challenges and constraints faced in the agro-industrial sector in the area of capacity utilisation, cost of production and quality of products, investment flow and infrastructure.
He said the country is facing the “problem of processing and post-harvest handling “ which he said is the major cause of” post-harvest losses in the country adding that his organisation would address this through the provision of storage facilities, processing equipment, linkages for markets as well as funds for stabilisation of agribusinesses in Nigeria.”
The roundtable was attended by officials of the bank of industry and bank of agriculture and Nigeria Export import bank among others