The Chairman and Chief Executive of the Integrated Produce City, IPC, an Agriculture/Industrial Town initiative near Benin, Professor Pat Utomi, has announced that the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, and his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, will commission the first phase of the project on Tuesday 24th November at 11 am. The ceremonies which will include commissioning for trading, the temperature Controlled Plantain Warehouse, the turning of the sod on the Plantain and Cassava processing factories, the Agric service Centre and equipment showroom, and the groundbreaking for the residential estates.
According to the statement, these activities mark the resumption of business at what is Africa’s first wholesale produce market and aggregation Centre combined with an industrial Park, Truck Park and Highway Rest Area.
According to IPC Executive Director, Vitus Akudinobi the facilities which will include an Export Processing Centre has a myriad of partners which from Government include the Edo and Ondo governments, the Nigeria Shippers Council, Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Federal Ministry Agriculture as well as the Infrastructure Regulatory Commission and the Export Promotion Council. He further stated that the technical partners come mainly from South Africa and Turkey. Explaining that the activities of IPC will significantly impact seven states and create tens of thousands of jobs on several Agriculture value chains he said IPC subsidiaries will be more directly active in Ondo where they will be in Cattle ranching and farming with South African partners, and in Delta where they will run farms for Snail, fish and high-value horticulture, in addition to the Edo base that more readily makes for a hub connecting several states. Prof Utomi also said the four years of IPC was proved positive of how challenging entrepreneurship is in Nigeria but insisted that it also shows that those who persevere can be a worthy example, as he pointed out that nearly one billion Naira invested in the proof of concept phase relied mainly on loans from friends, family and foolhardy folk. He said there was an urgent need for banks to support production rather than trading and, economic rent extraction. That is the only path to sustainable development the political economist and entrepreneur insisted.