The Federal Government says it is committed to sustaining the momentum of the present growth in the agricultural sector by providing the needed enabling environment to boost efforts of farmers, entrepreneurs and investors along the entire Agricultural Value Chain.
Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security made the commitment on Saturday while commissioning an Agribusiness Incubation Centre (ABIC) at Federal University, Lokoja.
Umakhihe , said government is also channeling more efforts
towards promoting local and foreign partnerships to boost the present level of trade and investment in the nation’s agricultural sector.
He described agriculture as a veritable strategy for the economic diversification of the country, saying it is also a veritable tool to create jobs and wealth for the citizens.
According to the Permanent Secretary, the commissioning of the project marks another stride in the country’s efforts at diversifying its economy through accelerated development of the agricultural sector for food security, income generation, job creation and poverty reduction among farmers.
Omokhihe said : “The Incubation centre is being established as a Special Centre of Excellence to support and promote food security in Nigeria, and to support youth and women empowerment as well as promote employment generation, wealth creation and poverty reduction through the development of viable agribusiness and entrepreneurship skills in different Agricultural Value chains across the country.
“The focus of the centre include; enhancing production capacity, value addition, quality control and standards, and opening access to local and international markets for our agricultural produce.
“The project is aimed at facilitating and attracting investments into the agricultural sector, ensuring survival and sustainability of agri-based businesses and increasing domestic food production and exports.”
Speaking further, the Permanent Secretary said the centres will serve as practical knowledge hubs where best practical skills, processes and inputs can be acquired on particular commodities.
“These centres will also produce young generation of successor farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs who can adapt new technologies and innovations across the segments of commodities enterprise/value chain of production, processing, storage and marketing.
“The centre is equipped to provide business basics through comprehensive training programmes along commodity Value chains and business start-ups, including access to bank loans and other funds and guarantee programmes.
“The centre will support Market research, linkage to strategic partners, access to investors and the development of business plans and business networking,” he said.
Omokhihe , then expressed the hope that the Agribusiness Incubation Centre will serve as a practical and innovative approach to support and promote growth of Agribusiness, trade and investment not only in Kogi State but, in Nigeria at large.
He implored the university to make the best use of the centre , saying this is the only way for the institution to prove its support as a formidable institution in the concerted efforts of the government to grow the nation’s economy using the agricultural sector.
The Permanent Secretary charged the university to embark on advocacy, awareness promotion and sensitization of youth, women and other beneficiaries across the university catchment area and even beyond to take advantage of this project.
He expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the support and co-operation of the Vice Chancellor, the academic and management staff of the University for the successful completion of the centre.
In her remarks, Professor (Mrs) Monisola Alabi, who represented the Vice Chancellor at the brief commissioning ceremony commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security for establishing the centre at the university.
She also commended the ministry for the support it has been extended to the university, saying that the collaborative efforts should be sustained.
The Permanent Secretary also commissioned a 1.2km access road to the Agribusiness Incubation Centre.(vitalnewsngr.com)