From Uche Nnorom Makurdi
Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, has assured that Nigeria will attain zero-oil economy through commitment to export diversification.
He further stated that the need to prevent the nation’s economy from over-dependence on oil through commitment to export diversification prompted the articulation of zero-oil plan which would soon be achieved.
Mr. Awolowo stated this at the weekend during a programme for the development of Shea butter value chain (phase two) for Shea Butter Producers in Benue State which was held at Adaka Primary School field, Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
The Executive Director who was represented by the North-central Regional Coordinator, NEPC, Mr. Christian Elekwa, said the measurable focus of the Council to attain this objective in phases and within a maximum period of 15 years.
According to him, the main purpose of the initiative is to have an economy that does not depend on a single drop of oil to survive, stressing that the realization of lofty dream is premised on massive production and marketing of pre-qualified and selected products in targeted markets.
“It is our belief that sheanut/Shea butter by its production and export potentials, belongs to this category of quickwin products that should be targeted for intensive development and promotion,”
“In Nigeria, Benue State is one of the states renowned for the production of sheanut, therefore, this progamme is another testimony of the importance NEPC attaches to the development and diversification of non-oil sector of the economy.
“The programme is directed towards building capacity of relevant stakeholders for an economically viable sheanut/Shea butter export sector in Benue State harping on global best practices for acceptability and competitiveness in international market.
“This capacity building programme, however, is one of the series of product/market development study plans being carried out by the Council to increase awareness level of stakeholders knowledge and skills in order to promote increase and diversify the basket of Nigerian exports trade.
Earlier in a remark, Trade Advisor/Head, NEPC Makurdi Export Assistance Office, Mr. Anani Egon disclosed that the first phase of the program was funded and implemented by the Council in 2016 covering three local government areas of Buruku, Logo and Katsina-Ala.
Egon said it was in order to build on the success achieved in the pilot program that the Makurdi Export assistance office sought and got the approval of the Executive Director to implement the second phase of the project in Otukpo, Makurdi and Okpokwu local government areas of the state.
NEPC also took the farmers on a field trip to the Oracle Shea Butter Limited at the Industrial Layout in Makurdi for a practical demonstration of mechanized Shea butter production line.