The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has urged Ondo Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (ONDOCIMA) to establish a special agro-allied district.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director of NEPZA, said that it was critical in promoting the production and processing of agricultural produce for export.
A statement issued on Friday in Abuja by Martins Odeh, Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, said that Adesugba made the appeal when the new executive of the chamber visited him on Thursday in Abuja.
According to him, the chamber must become active partner in the economic development of Ondo State by establishing the special agro-allied district.
The NEPZA boss, who said that chamber movement was aimed at galvanising sound economic development, added that ONDOCIMA was set up to make indelible and positive economic impact in the state.
“The chamber must constitute itself as an active development partner of the state by making itself an economic springboard in the state.
“This can happen speedily if a special agro-allied district for backward linkages in the production and processing of agricultural produce can be established.
“The new executive must begin to contemplate on securing large expanse of land in the state to establish this project as the enclave help to provide jobs and variety of businesses for members and residents of the state.
“Ondo State is blessed with arable land, suitable for all-year-round- farming.
The association can also reserve a substantial portion of the proposed district for the production of cocoa which the state has comparative advantage on,’’ Adesugba said.
He explained that pioneer members of the state branch of the association had plans of having such a special agric site and other businesses as well.
Adesugba, however, said that a number of extraneous factors had made the dream unrealisable.
“The chamber can only record good successes if it is less dependent on government. The leadership must activate interest and expertise of the members in order to achieve the set goals,’’ Adesugba said.
He also said that the association could become more potent and resulted-oriented if it regularly underwent projects’ assessment visitations to other sister associations.
“Members would use such tours for business knowledge acquisition and investment promotion exchanges,” he said.
Adesugba further said that NEPZA was prepared to partner the association in developing business templates that would make it become investment forerunner in the state.
The NEPZA boss also explained that the Akoko Chamber of Commerce, an adjunct of ONDOCIMA was a testament of years of striving to ensure that most local communities in the state were linked to the Organised Private Sector (OPS).
President of ONDOCIMA, Olugbenga Araoyinbo, said that Adesugba had continually proven that his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari to led the movement of industrialising the country through the Free Trade Zone scheme was useful.
He, however, explained that the new executive of the association had opened a new chapter in the administration of the chamber movement in the state.
Araoyinbo said that the association was prepared to join forces with the government in growing the economy.
“We are indeed grateful for the suggestion that the association establishes an agro-allied district where our members and investors can be involved in mechanised farming and processing of farm produce for local use and export.
“The association will in this light collaborate with NEPZA, our national body, the state government and investors to ensure that this plan is brought to fruition,’’ Araoyinbo said.