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Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr. Ezra Yakusak

By Emeka Nwokocha

The Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr. Ezra Yakusak, has reiterated the importance of agriculture in stimulating economic growth in Nigeria at fast rate, saying that more investment in the sector would boost exportation and revamp the dwindling Nigerian economy.

Yakusak made the statement recently in Asaba, capital of Delta State, through Mr. Olu Ikulajolu, Assistant Director of NEPC, who ably representated him at a meeting between members of the State’s Committee on Export Promotion (SCEP) and stakeholders on implementation of One-State One-Product (OSOP).

Continuing, he disclosed that NEPC had initiated various programmes and projects to stimulate business activities around the non-oil export sector of the economy.

He said, “before discovery of oil in Oloibiri, in 1957, agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, contributing about 65% to the total GDP of the Country. Regrettably, the sector has been relegated to the background, as it currently contributes less than 25% to the GDP.”

He continued, “our vision is to make the world a marketplace for Nigerian non-oil goods and services, while our mission is geared to spearheading diversification of the Nigerian economy by expanding and increasing non-oil exports to catalyse massive and sustainable economic growth.

Speaking further, he said, “over four decades of operation, we have made significant progress on this core mandate, culminating in the varieties of quality Nigerian products ‘entering’ the global market.”

He continued, “in recent times, we have scaled up efforts to mobilize citizens to invest meaningfully in the non-oil export sector – the nation’s next line of ‘defence.’ We shall continue to strengthen our partnership with relevant institutions, groups and individuals to increase the non-oil export performance in Nigeria and Delta State.”

Yakusak added, “the State Committee on Export Promotion (SCEP) was established by the NEPC Act as a veritable tool to propagate non-oil export activities at the grassroots. As you may know, the Committee is domiciled in the Ministry of Commerce/Trade and Investment of each State, with relevant stakeholders as members.”

Also speaking, the Chairman, Delta State Committee on Export Promotion and Permanent Secretary, Delta State Ministry of Trade and Investment, Mrs. Antonia Ugbogu, called for more investment in cassava and palm production.

“There are great export opportunities in palm and cassava produce that are capable of boosting Nigeria’s economic growth and recovery,” she stated.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Trade Advisor, NEPC, Export Assistance Office, Mr Peter Onokpasa, said, “the concept of one state one product was an NEPC initiative to encourage every state of the federation to harness and produce for export, at least a product it has comparative advantage.”

He added, “the initiative is expected to be coordinated and implemented by the State Committee on export promotion and other stakeholders in every state of the federation.”

Continuing, Onokpasa said, “the Delta State Committee has over the past years worked hard to identify two primary products (Palm oil and Cassava), and two secondary products (Rubber and Seafood) that the state has comparative advantage, of which the stakeholders in the agriculture sector could leverage and boost production in the state.”

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