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Benue Targets Sesame, Yam, Others For Export

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Farmers in Benue State have been encouraged to focus on massive production of sesame (beniseed), yam and soybean among others as government plans to support the crops for export in order to generate foreign exchange.

The state governor, Hyacinth Alia, made the disclosure at a two-day stakeholders’ forum held in Makurdi on the development of non-oil export in Benue State organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in collaboration with the Benue State Committee on Export Promotion (SCEP).

Alia, represented by his Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Orpin Manasseh Alumo, expressed delight with the Forum’s theme, “Exploring Non-oil Export Potentials of Benue State for Job Creation, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Economic Growth,” saying, it encapsulated the very essence of the gathering for a brighter, more prosperous future for the state.

The governor said that his administration was poised towards harnessing the untapped potential of the state’s non-oil export sector to drive job creation, alleviate poverty and foster sustainable economic development.

He said, “We will focus on few targeted exportable products such as sesame, yam, soybean, shea, solid mineral, fashion and beauty products as well as services for export.

“Consequently, we will put in place policies and programmes that will enhance non-oil export activities and stimulate investment in the state, to generate foreign exchange by our citizens.”

Alia added that the time has come for the state to leverage on its comparative advantage in order to chart a new course, stressing that whether it be the fertile soil that yield bountiful harvests, the abundant river resources that sustain agricultural productivity or the rich cultural heritage that attracts tourists from far and near, “we (Benue) have all the ingredients for success right here at our backyard.”

Furthermore, the governor emphasised, “We shall make efforts to increase the participation of small holder producers in non-oil export. Our goal is to grow the non-oil export base of Benue State by 10 percent yearly; to intensify international trade linkages with the industrial sector among others.

“My administration will key into the Operation Double Your Export campaign of the NEPC. The goal of my administration is to build a state that is business friendly and habitable for all.”

Earlier, Coordinator of NEPC in Benue State Coordinating Office, Olu Ikulajolu, said that the Forum aimed at repositioning Benue in the scheme of non-oil export potential states occasioned by its many products.

Ikulajolu said that Benue produces over 50 different agro commodities and possesses over 30 mineral resources among others, noting that the various products could strengthen the performance of the state’s economic potential if harnessed.

He, however, worried that the low level of awareness on the part of farmers and community as well as low product quality and low knowledge of market among other challenges were militating against the export of commodities produced in the state, hence the need for the stakeholders’ forum.