By Ben Eguzozie in Port Harcourt
Edo State government is ramping up its agricultural programme through an incoming partnership with an export institute, IEOM, and other stakeholders to train youths on the agricultural value chain. Beneficiaries would also get financial aid for startup.
Governor Godwin Obaseki said the state was quite poised to drive agriculture further, especially at a time Nigeria and its federating states were working towards diversifying the nation’s oil plummeted economy.
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Some development-specific financial institutions, the Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank and Bank of Industry (BoI) are being contacted to be part of the forthcoming agric value chain ramp up.
According to the arrangement with NEXIM and BoI, both financial institutions would assist in funding for the processing companies. The processing companies will be set up at the completion of the youth agric value chain training programme.
For the Institute of Export Operations and Management (IEOM), being a foremost export agency in the country, it is set to get on the youth training measure, as well as collaborations with some development-specific financial institutions.
The Edo government would equally be expected to make available funds to establish processing and packaging companies of the agricultural produce, mineral resources and art and craft products, for export.
Obaseki explained that the Benin Industrial Park, Gelegele Seaport and Edo Inland Dry Port would boost exportation business, and provide jobs for the teeming youth population of the state, as well as create wealth.
“All of these cannot be achieved without empowering youths with requisite skills to prepare them to fit into the new job opportunities that would be created in the state,” the governor said.
Ofon Udofia, the executive secretary of IEOM, whose team and members of the Benin Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BECCIMA) paid a courtesy visit to Governor Obaseki at Government House, Benin City, said the partnership would be quite credible and provide means of economic turnaround for hundreds of young people in the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, noted that the state would leave no stone unturned to support investors to drive products manufacturing to supply the domestic and international markets.
Udofia stated that the Institute was resolved to equip the youths with the right knowledge in agriculture through training programmes that will focus on product development, processing and packaging–that will match international standards and quality.
“We have reached a decision to complement the laudable socio-economic projects being embarked upon by the Godwin Obaseki-led administration. The plans to develop the Edo Inland Dry Port, Gelegele Seaport and the Industrial Park are quite credible, and will open the Edo economy to international markets,” he said.
He said IEOM was set to kick-off the training on export commodities development, but requires an adequate location in the state for the exercise.
Areas the youths would be taught include viable business they can engage into, and how to harness export opportunities in agriculture value chain, solid minerals and art and craft sectors.