BENUE State Governor Samuel Ortom has said agriculture can provide employment for the youth.
He urged Nigerians to take advantage of the Federal Government’s facilities, policies and programmes to embrace agric.
In an interview, Ortom said: “I tell you, we have taken advantage of the facilities provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to improve agriculture in Benue State. As you go out from our premises, you will see 50 tractors with implements that were bought from the Central Bank facility, which we secured. We secured N2 billion from the bank and with part of it, we were able to attract Bank of Industry(BOI) to come here and help our people with a counterpart funding of N1 billion and they also brought in N1 billion and we have N2 billion in that account.
“The whole thing is to encourage Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), especially in agricultural processing, for people to access these loans and process.Though I am no longer chairman of the company I established because of the position I hold today, I encourage them and several other Benue people to secure a N1.5 billion facility from the CBN.
‘Today, if you go to the Industrial Layout, you will see a feed mill that is being constructed by this facility; you’ll see a rice mill that is being constructed by this facility; you will see a cassava and yam processing mill that is being sponsored by this facility and you’ll also see a maize flour mill that is being constructed. All the raw materials that I am talking about are home-based. You need just some little additives to complete the process, otherwise more than 90 per cent of these raw materials are home-based.
“Take, for instance, the cassava and yam mill produces 23 tonnes per day and that is massive. If you multiply that by 22 days in a month, you can imagine the amount of yams and cassava that will be coming in. The rice mill is 100 tonnes per day. The corn flour is 100 tonnes per day and then the feed mill is 50 tons per day. So, you can imagine the benefit for our rural farmers and our people. And there are several companies that have indicated interest through my education to assess this loan because when we got this, it was the Minister of Agriculture that introduced it to us here.
Ortom said about N500 million is available in the Central Bank-Agriculture Development Fund, which the Federal Government provided, adding that it has worked very well.
The governor urged farmers to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the fund to boost their farming.
He added: ‘’With what is happening, if yams are processed into powder form, you can take them the Asian market, the United States of America, to Europe and other parts of the world. You can imagine the number of jobs that will be created along the line and the economic impact on this state if these things are happening and if you have about 50 of the enterprises like this working for Benue State.’’