The Federal Government in partnership with the German Development Corporation (GIZ) has unveiled the Nigeria Competitive Project (NICOP) for Ogun and Lagos States, to increase competitiveness for agricultural value chains and boost export promotions.
NICOP seeks to strengthen the competitiveness of Nigeria and enhance the country’s integration into the regional and international trading system.
The Initiative launched in Abeokuta for both states on Monday, will be geared towards improving performance, growth, and contribution to the industry, regional trade, and exports of selected agricultural value chains.
According to the Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, NICOP will leverage the comparative advantages of local products and aid the bid to diversify the economy.
He said the project was central to the economic diversification drive of the present administration, to help farmers achieve competitiveness and create more jobs.
Speaking at the launch, Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina said that the state has been providing linkages to smallholders to boost their productivity.
Odedina who pointed out that there cannot be an investment in agriculture, unless out-growers’ yield increases, also assured that the project would gainfully employ thousands of youths.
Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Lawal Gbolahan, on his part, noted that the project was necessary because the upstream sector of agriculture needed to be catered to.
He said Lagos state was focusing on where it has comparative advantages like aquaculture, poultry, and rice, stating that NICOP will boost the productivity and competitiveness of farmers.
GIZ Representative, Mrs. Emma Odondo who stressed the need for farmers of both states to cultivate improved varieties of crops such as tomatoes and chilli pepper, bemoaned the lack of acceptance for the local varieties by processors.
NICOP, in her remarks, will ensure that farmers of both states get improved varieties, adding that the project will enhance farmers’ productivity and promote value addition.
Odondo further stated that GIZ was enforcing its presence in Ogun and Lagos states with several programmes such as Competitive African Rice Initiative and the Green Innovation Centers for Africa and the food sector for crops like tomatoes, chili pepper, ginger, maize, sorghum, rice, and potato.
Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, and Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture were among those who graced the NICOP launch, as well as farmers, processors and other agricultural stakeholders.