The Federal Government on Monday, March 16, 2020, launched the Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP) in Ogun and Lagos states, with the aim to improve competitiveness and export through value chain development.
Speaking at the launch, which was held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said the programme was solely sponsored by the European Union (EU), to support Nigerians in high-level production of tomato, chilli, ginger, leather and garments.
Adebayo represented by Deputy Director, Multilateral Trades in the Ministry, Aliyu Abubakar, said the end project is central to achieving the objectives of government in terms of job creation and diversification of the economy.
The minister submitted that the support and assistance from the developmental partners would help farmers and other stakeholders to achieve competitiveness.
“We hope through the support, all the policy objectives that the federal government has set to achieve in the area of competitiveness of our products in terms of diversification of the economy, in terms of providing jobs and in terms of reducing poverty and unemployment will be achieved.
“We are already working in 7 States; so far we have launched the programme in Kaduna and Abia and this year we are launching first in Ogun and Lagos, by early April , we are going to launch in Oyo State.
“We hope the launching of the project in the two remaining states which would be Plateau and Kano, and hopefully we will engage with all the stakeholders to make sure that the support and assistance the project is giving them to make sure they are competitive is achieved, so that at the end of it all, the communities, the states and the country will be better off,” he added.
In her remarks, the GIZ representative, Mrs Emma Odondo, lamented that the majority of farmers in both states produce local varieties not preferred by processors.
She noted that the corporation works with the Nigerian government to articulate, negotiate and implement its ideas for reform and development.
Odondo said amalgamation and value addition are challenges, as both crops (tomato and chilli) are largely small-holder but increasingly commercial.
“We’re introducing new varieties preferred by the processors, who are largely in Lagos.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, said 3,000 people would be gainfully employed through the project.