The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has donated an agribusiness incubation center to the Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi state.
While commissioning it recently at the main cause of the university during the 6th and 7th combined convocation ceremony of the institution, Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the permanent secretary of the ministry said the government is committed to sustainability and ramping up the momentum of the present growth in agricultural sector by providing the needed enabling environment to boost the entire efforts of farmers, entrepreneurs and investor along the entire agricultural value chain.
Umakhihe also said more efforts are being channelled towards promoting local and foreign partnerships to boost the present level of trade and investment in agriculture as a veritable strategy for economic diversification of our great country, noting that 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.
He said, “The focus of the centre includes; enhancing production capacity, value addition, quality control and standards, and opening access to local and international markets for agricultural produce.
“The project is aimed at facilitating and attracting investments into the agricultural sector, ensuring survival and sustainability of agricultural-based businesses and increasing domestic food production and exports”.
“The centre will serve as a practical knowledge hub where the best practical skills, processes and inputs can be acquired on a particular commodity. These centres will also produce a 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 etc”.
Umakhihe equally noted that the Agribusiness Incubation Centre will serve as a practical and innovative approach to support and promote the growth of Agribusiness, trade and investment not only in Kogi state but in Nigeria at large.
“I’m therefore hopeful that the University will explore this opportunity and make the best use of the centre and prove its support as a formidable institution in the concerted efforts of the government to grow the nation’s economy using the agricultural sector.
He urged the management to embark on advocacy, awareness promotion and sensitisation of youth, women and other beneficiaries across the university catchment area and even beyond to take advantage of this project.
Ernest Umakhihe was conferred with a doctorate degree, doctor of the letter, honours Causa by the University for his contribution to the development of agriculture and food security in the country, before the ceremony.