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NEPC to train South-East farmers on good agricultural practices

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has announced plans to train farmers in the South-East region of the country on “good agricultural practices” for exports.

Also, to train the farmers on gap factors and food safety standards and certification, required in export business under Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) among others.

Olusegun Awolowo, executive secretary/chief executive officer of the NEPC, revealed this Thursday, in Aba, Abia State, at a-day sensitization programme, organized by the Council’s EEFP, for farmers and agricultural value chain operators in preparation for the proposed capacity building programme.

To ensure equity and fairness, Awolowo stated that the EEFP team worked in partnership with the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Association of Nigeria (FACAN), the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and regulatory bodies of the value chain operators in designing the roadmap for the selection of the first 20 (twenty) States, as a pilot scheme, for the engagement of farmers and other value chain operators in the sensitization and capacity building programme under the scheme.

Awolowo, who was represented, by Roselyn Ekanem, head – export assistant, NEPC, Aba, explained that the programme is intended to create awareness among the critical stakeholders in the respective States that there would be training programmes for the key players in the agricultural value chain in their respective domains.

According to him, the carefully selected programme scheduled for the 6 regions in the country, was informed by the selection of 10 strategic products to drive the implementation of the zero oil plan for increased economic growth under the Export Expansion Facility Programme.

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He commended the present regime of President Muhammadu Buhari, for the EEFP intervention in the non-oil sector, to expand the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector and promote export business to grow the economy in the face of the economic hardship posed by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

He stressed that the facility would significantly help in reviving not only the SMEs but also existing companies in the non-oil export business that have been adversely affected by the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The EEFP, which is an intervention scheme under the National Economic Sustainability plan of the Federal Government, is aimed at accelerating the growth of non-oil sector to effectively diversify the Nigerian economy.

It is a programme designed for one year implementation under the oversight of an Implementation steering committee, headed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment to ensure transparency and due process in the overall implementation process.

The NEPC CEO, stated that one of the roles of the EEFP is to identify and address capacity gaps in both downstream and upstream sectors of the export value chain, through training on adoption of best practices and adherence to Food safety Standards, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Export Market Access Programme/Export Competency Development Programme and certification for some stakeholders to improve the standard of their products for export.

He emphasized that out of the 22 identified National Strategic Products under the Zero Oil Plan, 10 have been selected under the EEFP for training of the farmers/value chain operators in 20 (twenty) selected States to change the export of Non-Oil products narrative.

In a bid to achieve a robust vibrant economy despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 adverse effects on the economy, Awolowo assured stakeholders that the Council is committed to implementing various Non-Oil export programmes under the National Economic Sustainability Plan to keep the economy afloat.

He re-iterated that the present regime under President Muhammadu Buhari, is committed to inclusive economic growth and National Economic Sustainability Plan.

Roselyn Ekanem, in her welcome address noted that the uplifting of the implementation of the Export Development fund (EDF) comes with the implementation of the EEFP.

She explained that the EEFP was introduced in 2020 with the aim of addressing the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that many exporters in the country have been benefiting from the fund to cushion the effect of the pandemic, which strenuously affected businesses globally.

Ekanem stated further that the meeting was necessitated by the observation that majority of exporters, especially farmers and other value chain operators on identified selected products are not familiar with good agricultural warehousing and manufacturing practices gap factors, HACCP, food safety and quality standard issues, hence the need for the Council to train exporters to meet standards.

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