Belarus Partners Abuja Chamber on Agriculture

The Republic of Belarus says its collaboration with the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is designed to enhance trade relations in agricultural production between it and Nigeria.

This is contained in a statement by the President of ACCI, Mr Tony Ejikonye, issued in Abuja on Sunday.

The statement said the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, Mr Valentin Rybakov, made this known at a business forum between the embassy of Belarus in Nigeria and members of ACCI.

He said that the forum presented an opportunity to discuss the various viable business opportunities in Belarus.

Rybakov identified agricultural produce, agricultural equipment used for processing and preservation and the abundance of petro-chemical products as mainstay of the country’s economy.

Similarly, Belarus Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Vyacheslav Beskosty, said that the embassy had made efforts toward promoting economic diplomacy between both countries.

He expressed dismay over the inability of his country and Nigeria to initiate a robust trade relation over the years.

Beskosty, however, expressed optimism that trade relations between both countries would be facilitated through partnership already existing between ACCI and Belarus concerns.

He assured that the embassy would collaborate with the Abuja chamber to actualize business endeavours between both nations.

The statement said that highlight of the occasion was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between ACCI and the Belarus Government.

Enabling Environment for Farming Business
In another development, the Association of Youths for Unity in Agriculture (AYUA) has appealed to the Federal Government to create enabling environment for farming business to thrive.

The President of the association, Mr Temitope Odetola, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Sunday.

It would be recalled that Dr Nteranya Sanginga, Director-General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, on April 3 said the Federal Government would introduce N59.7 billion for Youths-in-Agriculture scheme in September.

Odetola explained that the agriculture sector needed more than monetary empowerment to thrive.

He said for instance, the fish production sub-sector, if the Federal Government could set up a fish milling plant in the six geo-political zones, cost of production would be reduced significantly.

``We want to say that it is not only government empowerment that the sector need. Government needs to create an enabling environment for farming business to thrive.

``The association will like to suggest to the president, who is a credible leader and the minister of agriculture that we do not need to continue to budget millions of naira to empower youths.

``When we do this, we are indirectly using the money to develop other countries economy at the expense of our own economy.

``It is wrong for government to fund my fish meal purchase, but it will be a lot better if a feed milling plant is set up engaging the private sector,’’ Odetola said.

The president of the association observed that youth restiveness and unemployment would be reduced if these feed milling plants were set up either by government or private sector.

Odetola also suggested that the high cost of catfish at retail market was as a result of the high cost of production experienced by farmers.

``Let government set up feed mills in the six geo-political zones, you will be amazed at how unemployment will be reduced.

``Cost of production will also come down and fish farming will become more lucrative and attractive to a lot of people.

``The main reasons why people do not eat our fish is because it is too expensive but consider, a 50kg bag of imported fish meal costs N40,000.

``However, if we produce our fish meals here in the country, the cost will be reduced, so we do not need government money to import raw materials,’’ he said.

Odetola said that the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Lagos, had sometimes ago, discovered some fish species in Nigerian waters that were not eaten by Nigerians.

He suggested that those species could be incorporated into the fish meals produced in Nigeria.

NAN reports that Sanginga announced that the N59.7 billion Youth-In-Agriculture Scheme would be sponsored by the Federal Government and African Development Bank (AFDB).

He said that the programme tagged “Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness programme” will engage youths in agribusiness for 18 months to enable them learn how to make agribusiness plan.

He added that each participant would be given between 25,000 dollars and 300,000 dollars as loan to start a business.