…as 169 youths complete training on vegetable enterprise devt
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has set modalities to commence commercial production of tomato puree – the concentrate used for making tomato paste.
The Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Barrister Ukpong Akpabio, gave this hint during the graduation ceremony organised for 169 youths (62 female and 107 male) who successfully completed training in vegetable enterprise development, in Okobo Local Government Area on Friday, May 14, 2021.
Barrister Akpabio, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in his Ministry, Mr Oliver Udo-okpo, stated that the government is taking steps to ensure youths are sufficiently and productively engaged in Agriculture and food production considering their critical importance to the state economy and the country at large.
According to him, “His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel, has given us a directive to bring tomato puree factory to the state in no distant future and your tomato farms located across the State will supply raw materials needed for commercial production of tomato paste”.
He commended the trainees for their perseverance and focus throughout the two-month intensive training programme despite several hurdles, saying those challenges only served to strengthen them.
“I’m pleased to see what stuff you people are made of and I appreciate your perseverance, determination, team spirit and focus. It wasn’t an easy drive but today we thank God that we’ve been successful in this program. We were worried because of the long journey from Uyo and other parts of the State to this training facility, but your determination has paid off. We will try as much as possible to assist so that you secure some grant to commence your farms.” He pledged.
The Commissioner thanked the consulting firm which handled the training, Bennycom Agro Academy especially the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Brezhnev Langwa, for his several contributions to support the State government in actualising and sustain the vegetable revolution. “I thank Mr Brezhnev Langwa, the training consultant for partnering government in taking youths off vices such as arm robbery, hooliganism, prostitution and drugs to train them in vegetable enterprise development. I also thank his team and appreciate your efforts.” He said.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Benny Group, the parent company of Bennycom Agro Academy thanked the State government especially the Ministry of Trade and Investment for initiating the training programme. He also applauded the successful trainees for staying strong to the end.
“For the past two and half months, we have been on a tedious journey to acquire the knowledge needed to feed our people and grow the economy therefore this training is not the end but a means to an end.
“The governor, His Excellency Udom Emmanuel, when he came in 2015 created the platform that will pull youths off the street into gainful employment. Today, the Ministry of Trade and Investment is following in that direction by undertaking an unprecedented feat of training youths for food and vegetable production.
Mr. Langwa then reiterated his promise to employ 39 of the successful trainees, saying this was his demonstration of faith in the government’s investment in creating employment for the youths as well as creating wealth through industrialization.
“When you go to Asia to get a product you are providing jobs for those in Asia. So, we will turn this trend around in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Investment. The Ministry through this programme is building a system of value where commonly consumed vegetables like tomato and pepper will be cultivated in Akwa Ibom State, processed and exported from this State. We will produce, feed the state and process the excess for export”. He said.
In his vote of thanks, one of the trainees, Mr Edem Ebong, thanked Governor Udom Emmanuel for providing platforms to gainfully employ Akwa Ibom youths. He thanked the Commissioner and the Ministry of Trade and Investment for conceptualizing the programme and thanked the management and staff of Bennycom Agro Academy as well as the trainees for their determination to complete the two-month intensive training despite setbacks.
Ebong however appealed for support from the government to assist trainees to form cooperatives and start their own farms.
It is on record that Akwa Ibom State has witnessed increased cultivation of various fast yielding vegetables including tomato, onion, pepper, cucumber, watermelon and others since the governor, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, flagged off the ‘vegetable revolution’ in 2016.