Benue State, long known as food basket of the nation, now seeks to push for foreign and local investors with its little-known fishing festival, Akata.
Now, the annual festival which ignites the Kastina-Ala area of the state is being repackaged to international standards modeled after the famous Argungu Fishing Festival that has become a huge international brand.
Kastina-Ala is known for massive yam production, fruits, groundnuts and cereals, and previous state administrations from the late Aper Aku through Moses Adasu to now Gabriel Suswam have tried to move the agricultural practice in the zone from peasant level to industrial and commercial dimensions that could attract banks, processing giants and large-scale buyers. This once led the present administration to tinker with commodity market idea.
Arrangements are said to have been finalised for holding the 2013 Akata Fishing and Cultural Festival with an eye on numerous multinational corporations and individuals.
A statement issued in Lagos last week by the principal consultant, Gren Business Dimensions, Rosemary Duamlong, said the need to make the festival a huge international success compelled the organisers to postpone the event. The event was originally billed for June 4 through 6, 2013, but it has now been shifted to June 25 to 27, 2013.
The organisers said the festival, a celebration of the rich culture of Tiv people in Benue State, was to promote Benue State as a tourist destination and also bring together local and the global business communities for greater economic opportunities.
Fishing competition is said to be the main event of the festival but other activities would include traditional dancing, traditional singing, power bike riding, traditional wrestling, boat racing, arrow shooting competition and traditional Tiv pageant (Miss Akata).
It was gathered that all known traditional dancers in the area would participate. Also, top government officials and business moguls from all the states of the federation would be in attendance.
The statement said the three-day international fiesta would encourage more private sector participation to bring more benefits to the people of the state and showcase the tourism potentials of Benue State as well as create wealth and unite the people and the communities.
In doing this, it is expected that Nigerians and the world community would once again have the privilege of acquainting themselves with the economic opportunities in Benue State. This, according to Dualong, would be achieved by the deliberate hosting of what is called Akata Business Conference at the Aminu Isa Kontagora Theatre Complex near Radio Benue in Makurdi, the state capital, on June 25 designed to bring together “the most intelligent and progressive minds in Nigeria and abroad”.
The summit is to examine the economic and investment opportunities in the food basket of the nation with the theme, ‘Food Basket of the Nation: Untapped Benue’. The organisers said the conference would be an opportunity to hear key business insights from experts and engage with prominent business leaders who are shaping the global community of today and tomorrow to provide a taste of the rich and diverse perspectives that characterise the vibrant Benue business community. Special emphasis would be on experience sharing and networking towards building partnerships that would translate the huge investment opportunities across Benue into wealth creation.
The organisers said Femi Fagite, a scholar of international repute and other experts, would deliver papers on untapped business opportunities in the state. “Benue State has huge potential for investment, particularly in agriculture, health, tourism and other areas. So we are expecting investors from different parts of the world”, the statement added.