By EricJames Ochigbo
As part of efforts to boost Agriculture in Nigeria, Niger State Government in collaboration with Shine Bridge Global has commenced work on developing a large scale agro centre and food processing zone.
Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello disclosed the state’s commitment to the partnership during a courtesy visit to him by the private company.
The project which is to be located by the Minna Airport City project is a collaboration with Shine Bridge Global, a joint venture partnership of local agribusiness company; Ramah Agribusiness Development Partners Ltd and US-based Heritage Agro Allied Foods Inc. and Unka Rob’s Foods LLC.
The governor said that the Minna airport had the longest runway in the country but decried that it was being under utilised as the airport which is meant for cargo aircrafts witnessed minimal activities.
He said that the whole land area is about 1,000 hectares and that the idea was to convert a part of it to an agro processing zone.
He said that the government had already began a small scale greenhouse project in the area with export market as target.
He said that with the increase in population of the country, there was a local market which is sufficient and the required labour to produce.
Bello said that there was need to scale up the greenhouse project and bring it up to internationally acceptable standards.
He, however, said that there were deficiencies in some areas as there were not enough processors and off-takers to meet the target.
According to the governor, we have developers that are ready to produce as much as there is available cash for off-take from them.
“They usually produce just for their own daily consumption but with this initiative if it works out as planed we can push them to do more with government support and a bit of financial institutions.
“On the private side, I think it is a good opportunity for people that want to make money particularly investors as long as it is planned very well; not only in Niger state, Nigeria as a whole lacks food processing.
“We still import a lot of kan food and dairy products that we do not need to; that is why we are looking at this effort we are discussing,” Bello said.
He said that government was working hard to revive the Bobi Grazing Reserve which covers an area of about 32,000 hectares.
The governor said plans were ongoing to have President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurate the project in September.
Bello explained that the idea was to provide pasture and facilities like water, veterinary services, milk collection centres, nomadic schools among others to settle herdsmen in the area.
He said that it was an opportunity for investors and also for the herdsmen to get the right quantity of milk from their cows and meat for the industry.
Earlier in his remarks, Dr Tony Bello, the Chief Executive Officer, Heritage Agro Allied(H2A)Foods and leader of the team said they had brought a 20-year plan of agro tourism.
He said they want to ensure that the natural resources of the state brings about not just food production but food processing.
According to the team leader, the plan is to achieve it through renewable energy by turning agricultural waste into wealth.
“We want to make sure we are utilising the natural resources of Niger state and to bring in not just food production but food processing
“It is not just food processing but renewable energy and turning agricultural waste into wealth and not just renewable energy but coronary art and at the end of the day, we all know that it is about the food in our stomach,” he said.
He said it would enhance the products and its packaging to ensure effective delivery of food production and nutrition in the state.
Bello said it would engage the youths and women in state and that the team would also scale up greenhouse project.
He said that they had come with business development and technical partners to fast track and deliver on the project.