The Executive Director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Segun Awolowo, has called on relevant government agencies in Imo State to assist the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in order to sustain the gains of the Capacity Building Training Programme organised by NEPC in Owerri, the state capital.
Awolowo gave the charge at a capacity building programme organised for SMEs held in Owerri on Thursday, where the NEPC charged SMEs to embrace modern packaging of their products to make required impact on both domestic and export markets.
Awolowo, who was represented by Mr Anthony Ajuruchi, NEPC Chief Trade Promotion Officer, said that production of agricultural products had gone beyond mere assembling of the products.
He said that SMEs were recognised globally as instruments for economic growth, development and poverty reduction, by providing employment to a large number of citizens in a given economy.
He stressed the need for a well-planned intervention to raise the technological skills of the SMEs in a way that those involved in agro production and development could produce high produce for export through the use of affordable and new technologies.
According to him, capacity building for SMEs in the Agro Value Chain was a perfect action towards increasing the production and processing of high quality agricultural products in Nigeria through strengthened technological skills of the SMEs in the agro public sector.
He said the NEPC would continue to assist the SMEs through her product development efforts in line with its mandate.
He said: “It is my expectation that the MSME exporters and potential exporters avail themselves of this opportunities to be mainstreamed into high quality cultures in production and processing”.
Mr Nnadosie Udensi, National President, Ogbono (Irvingia) Commodity Value Chain, said the absence of extension workers was the bane of agro-based business.
He said that Nigeria’s population was growing with agriculture as the only way she could meet up with the population growth.
Udensi said that there should be a change from the previous way of farming and processing to a more acceptable and modern way where the country could export its products to be acceptable internationally.
Earlier, Mrs Felicia Agbahia, Head of NEPC in Imo State, represented by Mrs Olivia Ukaegbu, an Assistant Chief Trade Promotion Officer, expressed appreciation to NEPC for bringing the training programme to Owerri.
She advised the participants to take the programme seriously and apply what they learnt in their various businesses for growth of agriculture in Nigeria and Imo in particular.
Highlight of the programme was the presentation of equipment support to some agro SME value chain operators for cashew, cassava, palm oil, palm kernel, ogbono and honey products.
About 200 participants drawn from various organisations and agro based businesses in the state attended the programme which had the theme, as “Strengthening Technological Skills of SMEs to Produce for Export.”.