BY: VITALIS UGOH Calabar
The Nigerian Exports Promotion Council(NEPC) has enjoined local manufacturers and farmers to explore the services available at the agency in order to accelerate the export drive of the federal government.
Trade promotion advisor of NEPC,Calabar Area office Emmanuel Etim, stated this in an address at a one day capacity building workshop for cassava farmers in Cross River State held in the state capital,Calabar.
He revealed that the event, floated in conjunction with the State chapter of the Nigerian Cassava Growers Association was aimed at developing the value chain mechanism for export market given the high demand for the crop globally and to facilitate smooth assess to available incentives in cultivation.
Dr Etim enumerated the focal points of the programme to include; developing an export oriented mindset amongst the growers, acquainting them with trending technological innovation in the field,enhance capacity for bumper harvest as well as expose stakeholders to global best practices in packaging for the international market.
In his opening remark,the state Commissioner for agriculture Okon Owuna harps on the need for youths to embrace cassava farming in view bright of the prospects and potentials in the sector noting that agriculture remains the viable option to surmout the present economic nightmares.
According to Owuna,”the Cross River State Government has acquired several hectares of land for distribution to cassava farmers across the three senatorial districts of the state in order to sustain our status as largest producers and we need the youths,as a focal point of our agric revolution to be involved to drive the mechanize farming initiative of the federal,state government and the CBN”
Also speaking,the Commissioner for Commerce in the state Rosemary Archibong opined that the state government is poised to revolutionize the agric sector and exploit the benefits of the Calabar Free Trade Zone which she said has recently been earmarked for upgrading by the federal government to meet growing demands and sued for maximum participation for mutual benefits.
In his remark,the state chairman, Nigerian Cassava Growers Association Agustine Oqua urged the government to expedite action on the distribution of acquired land to enable members commence cultivation with the onset of the rains.
Farmers who spoke called for sincerity and transparency to ensure that grants and incentives get to real famers or risks truncating the ludable federal government initiative.
The training session featured lecture series and practical demonstrations by resource persons drawn from the University of Calabar and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture,Ibadan in Oyo State.