By Chinedu Eze
The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and the ABX Agro-Allied Services Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost the export of Nigeria’s agricultural produce.
Under the MoU, signed recently, the UNN would support the ABX and the federal government achieve the terms of reference of the committee that works on the development of agriculture as an alternative to oil in revenue generation and foreign exchange earnings.
The federal government through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) recently inaugurated a 28-member Nigeria Agro Set-Up Committee with a mandate to reinvigorate broad national agricultural activities across the country.
With the federal government’s intent on diversifying the economy away from oil, there has been renewed interest in the agricultural sector as a critical sector to lead the charge and target $250B in export income for Nigeria by 2040.
To this end, duo – UNN and ABX – would work vigorously to assist the country and farmers obtain International Standard Organisation (ISO) and GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) products certifications respectively for different agro-allied crops and products and partner with other stakeholders to improve the competence and capacity of rural farmers and agro-allied SMES.
The Vice Chancellor of the premier University in Nigeria, Prof. Charles Igwe, said that the university has as one of its principal objectives to provide singularly or in collaboration with other institutions of higher learning and other public or private organisations facilities for teaching and research in various disciplines including agriculture and participate in the discovery and transmission of knowledge.
Igwe, stated the preparedness of the institution to provide facilities such as land, buildings, electricity and training equipment like ICT gadgets and others; and the pooling of intellectual content and resource persons for capacity building, for the success of the Nigeria agro-export programme.
On his part, Chief Executive Officer of ABX Agro-Allied Services Limited, Captain John Okakpu, described the partnership as a giant step towards facilitating an agro-export friendly system for the country and entrench international acceptance standards.
“As you are aware, we are pursuing the mandate of formulating and implementing policies and programmes to attract investment, boost industrialization, increase trade and exports and develop enterprise. So, with UNN on board, things will get a lot easier for us.
“We are resolute to source for funds to support this project; facilitate ISO and GAP certifications of products for export and provide technical experts for capacity building exercises/sessions,” Okakpu said.
The agreement shall be tenable for five years in the first instance and may be renewable thereafter as long as the objectives and goals are achieved and the university and the partner, ABX Ltd, mutually benefits from the patriotic and national goal of sustainable agricultural development of non-oil economy for Nigeria.