Kingsley Madaki, Abuja
To tackle current economic recession in the country, state governments have been charged to develop their agricultural potentials for export so as to earn the needed foreign exchange.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, gave the advice while receiving a delegation of Akwa Ibom state government, led by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Grassroots Mobilization, Mr. Emmanuel Inyang, in Abuja.
The Minister said that the action would also go a long way in creating the needed employment to a very large percentage of the populace in the country as white-collar jobs are becoming extremely difficult to come by.
Bello further expressed the willingness of the FCT Administration to collaborate with any state that is willing to venture into agricultural production for export in the overall interest of the country as the nation is in dire need of a diversified economy.
The Minister explained that hardly is there any state of the federation that does not have a peculiar agricultural product that can be developed for export as the advanced countries even prefer organic food and therefore enjoined the government of Akwa Ibom State to give attention to production of pumpkin known as Ugu.
The Minister stated that the FCT Administration is particularly interested boosting the production of coconut as well as pumpkin, to be exported to Europe and other continents.
He noted that Nigeria has favourable environmental conditions as well as the manpower required to challenge and possibly surpass Ghana, which he said accounts for nearly all the pumpkin (Ugu) being exported to Europe and other West African sub regions.
“A lot of the Ugu that is being sold in London for the Diaspora and even the West African sub region, even for those in Europe is actually being shipped from Ghana.
“Nothing prevents us from organizing ourselves properly through the women groups of your state and other states from really growing this vegetable nicely and shipping it every morning to London”, he said
The Minister also revealed that the investment arm of the FCTA, Abuja Enterprises Agency would be interested in acquiring improved coconut varieties from Akwa Ibom to be planted in the southern part of the FCT where he said the soil is quite ideal for such purposes.
While speaking, the leader of the delegation and the Special Assistant to the Governor on Grassroots Mobilization, Mr. Emmanuel Inyang, said that the people of Akwa Ibom are loving people who believe that wherever they find themselves, they should stay in peace and live there.
Mr. Inyang noted that the State encourages its indigenes that are willing to do genuine business and contribute to the development of the city to be law abiding and to also maintain peace and order.
He expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing the FCT Minister to take charge of the Territory, adding that the people of Akwa Ibom are willing to partner with the FCT Administration and support the Minister in all his activities.
“We are also interested in impacting on the Federal Capital Territory. The government of Akwa Ibom is interested in putting up a craft centre where people will be trained on things they can do by themselves such as tailoring, carpentry, electrical works, tiling and so on,” he said.