Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
Chief Whip of the Senate , Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has called on the Federal Government to focus on the establishment of processing mini – industries in every state of the federation to boost the agricultural sector of the economy. The former governor of Abia said the mini – industries would ensure that cash crops like cashew, groundnut are processed into products thus creating a value chain for export and employment in the agricultural sector.
Senator Kalu (Abia-North) who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee Banking, Insurance and other financial institutions, commended the Federal Government’s efforts in building Silos (storage facilities) across the country. He however pointed out that most of them were not being put into use. These formed part of Kalu’s contributions to a motion during the Senate plenary on Thursday sequel to the consideration of a motion on “the need for continuous implementation of policy reforms for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through the Agricultural and Solid Minerals Sectors.”
The motion was sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) and co-sponsored by 59 other senators.
According to Amosun, available statistics show that the contribution of crude petroleum and natural gas to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined from 14.95 percent in 2011 to 9.61 percent in 2015 while the agricultural sector contributed 23.35 and 23.11 percent, respectively, to the GDP during the periods. Kalu in his contribution to the motion said, “a lot of cash crops were produced but were neither sold nor consumed because the prices were going down. In supporting this motion I would like to encourage the Federal Government of Nigeria to also extend a mini – industry scheme for processing food either maize, groundnut, cashew nuts and other cash crops that we produce in this country. I know in Ogbomosho, Oyo State for example, a lot of mangos are produced but we still end up importing mango juice into the country.