Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and the Association of Agricultural and Industrial Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AIEN) initiated cluster development to support farmers to create jobs and boost the economy. BINTA SHAMA reports.
In the pursuit to achieve economic growth and food security, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and the Association of Agricultural and Industrial Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AIEN) are working towards boosting the agricultural sector via the commercialisation of Research and Development (R&D) product in Nigeria.
Speaking at the national conference recently, in Abuja, the National President of AIEN, Chuku Wachuku, described the initiative as a historic achievement and an advanced idea capable of producing raw materials for local consumption and exports for the country. Adding that, the initiative would also create wealth through this initiative, while also creating a window in the non-oil sector for the country to earn the much-needed foreign exchange.
He enjoined Nigerians and stakeholders to encourage the initiative that he believes would change businesses and the society.
Chuku explained that the programme involves collaboration with willing states to set up clusters across the 774 local government areas of Nigeria.
He said: “This country has always been dealing with unemployment generation and so much funds has been earmarked but not actually getting to the grassroots where it belongs because the critical mix of economic development was detailed squarely on production and productivity and so we came up with the initiative of cluster development with Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), and we have our membership in the geopolitical zones of the Nation, while Raw Materials has offices in the 36 States of Nigeria and NAP is local government driven.
“Employment generation and creation, alongside the creation of wealth again should be necessarily be given to entrepreneurs. We want to convey the message to the grassroots because opportunities have unveiled themselves, which are available if only we can work and make it successful.”
The initiative of 250 to 500 members
Chuku assured that engaging the initiative of 250 to 500 members of AIEN in each local council as primary entrepreneurs would create jobs.
“Cluster initiative means that each local government will have one cluster which will end up being a noble idea in this country. You can imagine where we can put 250 to 500 entrepreneur per local government all producing. At a very least state, we can produce millions of jobs annually and that is visible, possible, and practicable.
“The biggest problem with small and medium entrepreneurship is access to finance and reason is because they are not trained productive development, they do not have the necessary collaboration despite the lack of capital they may be faced with and SMEs is a drive as an engine of economic growth in every developing country.
“We are working together with our Raw Materials Research and Development Council to create a vehicle, an organisation which is the business membership organisation to create entrepreneurs.
Farmers as business persons
“We have to orient all of our farmers to carry a mindset of a business person because they are all entrepreneurs. Imagine a situation of a local government cluster having to produce cassava which is a basic raw material for starch, flour, and a lot more and each of this layers create its own for more employment and for this entrepreneurship to envisage this we have 1 million entrepreneurs employing 5 people creating 6 million extra jobs, I think that is what we need to do in this country and we have capable hands to do the needful because government cannot do it alone. The government only creates an enabling environment for job creation which we already have available in the country.”
“Any government Agency telling you they are creating jobs are fooling themselves and we need to drive the policy to the Federal Government that one off their duplication to governance which so many organisations are doing the same thing is a wastage. The President means well but the implementation and those implementing them are faulty so we need to help this country and we cannot keep blaming the government.
Government finance institutions
He further said, “Together working with government finance institution that are agency sacrosanct for Nigeria, i.e. Bank of Agriculture industry, Development Bank of Nigeria etc. What we are to do is to create financial endeavor from them, table them on the shoulder of the entrepreneurs and attract funding to the deposit money banks and those to be delivered as micro-credit to entrepreneurs who will in turn employ people, produce for raw material consumption in this country, a raw material exports and increase the non-oil exports and derive the more need for foreign change.
“To make it clear, the suspended 50 billion dollars imported goods are foreign goods and if we are producing enough now to satisfy the domestic demand then we will cut on that the necessary funds that we have spent trying to look for things we can produce here.
“We are also networking with off-takers across the world through interest to import things out but the problem has always been not enough produce production and that is enough for instance why we lack the importation of tomato paste is because the raw material is insufficient or not there and the storage capacity isn’t there as well but critically speaking, we can produce enough tomatoes and feed them to the tomato processing factory and then we can have a domestic production so also in the like of maize we can produce enough maize that the Nigerian government doesn’t need to import. These are all things we are doing irrespective of your discipline because the key word here is entrepreneurship.
“This is a function that an entrepreneur under the business member organisation can do we are here to see how we can integrate with the grassroots organisation of property associations have our own country to grow,” he stated.
Funding requirements and instruments
Chuku therefore called on development financial institutions and stakeholders that already have the programme going on by reaching a workable solution, to incorporate in the funding requirements of the existing funding instruments for the purpose of producing, creating, employment wages and play some role in the economy.
Earlier, the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RMRDC, Prof. Hussaini Ibrahim, said the council has been working on development and utilisation of local materials for industries for a while.
He noted that as part of the effort, the RMRDC came up with cluster development strategy for which the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology adopted the Ward-Based Cluster Programme.
Hussaini maintained that the Council found it necessary to adopt the strategy of Cluster Development Initiatives as the new way to go in realising growth and national development and reap its full benefits.