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Pastor Umo Eno, Gov, Akwa Ibom State

Akwa Ibom governor woos investors in agriculture, others at UNGA 78

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Sept. 23, 2023

The Akwa Ibom Government has called on investors across the world to invest in agriculture and other sectors in the state, assuring them of providing enabling environment.

Gov. Umo Eno said this at the High Level Meeting on “Attracting investments in Land Restoration, Food Systems and Rural Transformation in Africa” in New York.

The meeting was organised by African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) Nigeria in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD Continental on the margins of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Eno, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Dr Ekem John, spoke on his readiness to welcome investors to his state and give them maximum support.

According to him, apart from Abuja, the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory, Akwa Ibom has made conscious efforts to put infrastructure in place to attract investors.

“We are making conscious efforts in terms of the three gateways – land, air and sea. You can go to anywhere within Akwa Ibom in one hour on motorable roads.

“We are conscious of the fact that as we’re promoting agriculture, small farm holders in our rural areas must be able to evacuate their produce.

“In terms of air infrastructure. We’re the first sub-national governments to build and operate an airport efficiently.

“I think we’re the first sub-national government in West Africa to own an airline and that airline traverses the entire Nigeria and in the coming few days, in October, we’ll be establishing regional flights from Uyo.

“So, investors can seize that opportunity to invest in agriculture in Akwa Ibom,” he said.

The governor said that he had separated the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, and mandated the Ministry of Water Resources to begin to work out modalities to improve on the irrigation farming.

Eno said he was recently in Benin Republic where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Songhai farms and “the idea really, is to train small farm holders into adopting modern agric practices.

“So, we’re setting up a Songhai farm in Akwa Ibom and we’re recruiting young people and trying to make agric fashionable for the young people. So, they are paid salaries, trained and then allowed to go and establish and run their farms.

“The government is also thinking ahead by providing storage facilities for these farmers that we are bringing on board.

“And let me also say that apart from the education, in terms of regulation, just last week, before we departed for this meeting, we clamped down on some companies.”

Speaking in an interview at the event, Sen. Abdulaziz Yar’dua, Chairman, Senate Committee on Nigerian Army said the event was important to Nigeria because it discussed challenges faced my rural farmers and the way forward.

“So, it is important to attract financing, investment and also ensure that certain processes are put in place so that our farmers, rural farmers can have very good harvest.

“We’re doing everything possible in Nigeria to ensure that all the things that are needed within the agriculture value chain are provided to the farmers but most importantly, this event and this session that I attended, which involves attracting international financing, is to ensure that our rural farmers are given access to finance,” he said.

He recalled that in the last administration, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had to be involved in getting the rural farmers access to finance.

“You know the Nigerian financial institutions were not interested in giving access to finance to our rural farmers, basically because they believe agriculture is not a business and they believe they cannot quickly get profit out of that.

“So, in the last administration, the government had to involve the CBN  through the Anchor Borrowers scheme to ensure that our rural farmers are having access to finance.

“With this international financing investment, I think it will add value to what is existing in Nigeria to ensure that our rural farmers get access to finance, get capacity, get knowledge of modern agriculture,’’ he said.

The senator said it is important for farmers to understand that agriculture is a business.

“We need to build their capacity in order to ensure that they reap maximum benefits from what they do so that it does not stop just at subsistence farming that we do only during the rainy season but that there will be an all year round funding for our rural farmers and once you engage rural communities, of course, the economy will improve, the gross domestic product of the country will improve.”

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