The Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has concluded a one week working visit to India to explore new partnerships on agricultural development between Nigeria and India.
The Minister was received by the Indian Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, His Excellency, Radha Mohan Singh; the Nigerian High Commissioner to India – Amb. Chris Eze; and some Agribusiness investors in New Delhi.
Receiving the delegation, the Indian Agriculture Minister, Mohan Singh described Nigeria as India’s largest trading partner in Africa and disclosed that in 2015, India had announced concessional loans of $10 billion to African countries.
He added that recently, India increased training slots under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation – ITEC Programme covering short-term training programmes in agriculture and allied sectors from 200 slots to 310 slots annually to Nigeria.
Hon. Minister, Audu Ogbeh described India’s resilience in developing its agricultural sector especially the giant strides recorded in its dairy sector as an inspiration to Nigeria, adding that If India could do it, Nigeria can do it too.
The Hon. Minister was also received at Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, which has for decades driven the development of India’s dairy sector, using latest techniques of animal husbandry to empower 3.5million dairy farmers in 18,000 villages through the Amul milk brand. He was later taken on a guided tour of Amul Milk Factory, India’s largest dairy production factory and Asia’s largest milk producer.
Chief Ogbeh also undertook a tour of the Gujarat Industrial Development Area where he looked at technology transfer in small-scale processing machines designed for smallholder farmers such as semi-automated cashew shelling machines.
Hon. Minister’s tour of Gujarat Industrial Dev Area of small scale cashew projects and India’s largest milk processing factory is part of an understudy of India’s Agric co-operative models ahead of the implementation of the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise – LIFE programme, which aims to empower rural youth and women in Nigeria.
In Calcutta, Chief Ogbeh held a meeting with the Jute Mills Association of India to discuss collaborations for Nigeria’s large scale cultivation of Jute and Kenaf; and the adoption of jute bags for packaging agricultural produce in line with food safety standards and global best practices.
Speaking at the meeting, the Minister declared that Nigeria is open for Agribusiness, with incentives for investors, noting that with Nigeria’s increased production in grains; the country will be requiring massive packaging and therefore invited the Indian Jute Mills to seize the huge opportunity in the Nigerian market; and invest in jute bag manufacturing in Nigeria.
The Minister emphasized that non-biodegradable packaging material such as polypropylene is not safe for our food and the environment, advocating the use of jute packaging which are carbon neutral and biodegradable.
Also in Calcutta, the Hon. Minister visited Wellington Jute Mill, the first Jute mill in Asia established by James Finlay & Co in 1873 and now owned by Ai Champdany Industries Ltd. At full capacity, the mill produces 120 Metric tons per day and employs 3,000 workers. The Minister described the age-long expertise of the factory as an invaluable experience from which Nigeria can learn and gain a lot.
A delegation of the National Seeds Corporation of India also held a meeting with Hon. Minister in New Delhi as he wrapped up his official visit to India. Partnering with Nigeria’s National Seeds Council to developed improved seed varieties for increased agricultural productivity was top on the agenda.