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The Governor of Enugu State, Dr Peter Mbah, has disclosed that the state has concluded plans to provide 300,000 hectares of land in each senatorial zone for the cultivation of cash crops that would be processed for export.
According to Mbah, his administration has laid out the plans to actualise this goal in order to boost the state’s revenue, create jobs and also build associated infrastructure that would enable the state to be a net exporter of different types of farm produce.
To this end, the governor has initiated plans to build ultra-modern warehouse for the storage and processing of farm perishables at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu in collaboration with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
He also disclosed that the Enugu state government would establish an airline that would be focused on cargo freighting and passenger service, adding that he had set a target of 15 months to establish the airline and get it ready for certification by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Mba made these known yesterday when members of Aviacargo Roadmap Committee visited him at the Government House, Enugu. He assured them that he has already kickstarted the plan to develop agriculture as major source of foreign exchange earner of the state.
“Your plan to encourage export of farm produce coincides with our plan to boost our revenue through the export of agricultural produce to realise our objective of increase the state’s earnings from $4 billion $30 billion within the next four to eight years.
“We have elevated our Ministry of Agriculture to Agro and Allied Ministry and we want to promote agriculture so that it will contribute about 40 per cent to our GDP.
“We shall establish 300,000 hectares of farm land in the three senatorial zones of our state. We aim to export farm produce and we have designed a common export facility we intend to construct with quality assurance and standardisation procedures.
‘We have also identified our constraints. We do believe that Enugu should have a cargo terminal and given the urgency with which we want to realise our goals, we need the cargo terminal as quickly as possible.
‘We intend to have cold chain facility and warehouses. We are also looking to start the export of some farm produce, including ose Nsukka (special pepper) which is in very high demand overseas. We are interested in value addition,’ the Governor said.
Earlier in a speech, the Coordinator of Aviacargo Roadmap Committee, Ambassador Ikechi Uko told the Governor that there was need to increase the volume of cargo, especially agri-produce from Nigeria to boost foreign exchange and to create jobs for Nigerians, regretting that many argo planes that arrive Nigeria to drop products fly back empty because Nigeria does not have much to export; ‘yet we have airports all over the country but we have not been able to use what we have invested to solve our problem.’
He said for Nigeria to increase its export of farm produce it had to adopt a new strategy, which include finding out what the international market needs, cultivating crops following standard processes as every produce that would be exported has a known origin or provenance.
So, traceability is very important because overseas you cannot consume what you don’t know the source to ensure that it was produced in a healthy manner and in a safe environment, he added.