The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has charged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)to embrace the modern packaging of their products to make the required impact on both domestic and export markets.
The Executive Director of NEPC, Mr Segun Awolowo, gave the charge at the Capacity Building Programme for SMEs held in Owerri on Tuesday.
The programme had the theme, “Strengthening Technological Skills of SMEs to Produce for Export.”
Awolowo, who was represented by Mr Anthony Ajuruchi, NEPC Chief Trade Promotion Officer, said that the production of agricultural products had gone beyond mere assembling of the products.
He said that SMEs were recognised globally as instruments for economic growth, development and poverty reduction and provide employment to a large number of citizens in a given economy.
As such, he said, there was a need for a well-planned intervention to raise the technological skills of the SMEs in a way that those involved in agro production and development could produce high produce for export through the use of affordable and new technologies.
The NEPC boss said that capacity building for SMEs in the Agro Value Chain was a perfect action towards increasing the production and processing of high-quality agricultural products in Nigeria through strengthened technological skills of the SMEs in the agro public sector.
Awolowo said the resource persons, as experts in relevant areas of concern would prepare the participants as desired to make a paradigm shift from old practices of agriculture and urged the participants to embrace the training with determination and zeal.
He called on relevant government agencies such as the ministries of agriculture, commerce and industry, women and youth development, technology and incubation centre (TIC) and others in the state to assist the SMEs accordingly to sustain the gains of the training.
He said the NEPC would continue to assist the SMEs through its product development efforts in line with its mandate.
“It is my expectation that the MSME exporters and potential exporters avail themselves of these opportunities to be mainstreamed into high-quality cultures in production and processing.
“Participants are also advised to visit the NEPC website for further information of our activities,” he said.
Mr Nnadosie Udensi, National President, Ogbono (Irvingia) Commodity Value Chain, said the absence of extension workers was the bane of agro-based business.
He said that Nigeria’s population was growing with agriculture as the only way she could meet up with the population growth.
Udensi said that there should be a change from the previous way of farming and processing to a more acceptable and modern way where the country could export its products to be accepted internationally.
Mr Hypolite Uzoka, President of Imo Cooperative Federation, who represented the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Simon Ebegbulem, said the programme was timely as the Nigerian economy had been overstretched through dependence on oil hence the need for diversification.
He said that the state was doing everything possible to encourage people from rural communities and agro-based SMEs to participate in programmes aimed at rebranding the country and its products through agriculture.
Earlier, Mrs Felicia Agbahia, Head of NEPC in Imo, represented by Mrs Olivia Ukaegbu, an Assistant Chief Trade Promotion Officer, expressed appreciation to NEPC for bringing the training programme to Owerri.
She advised the participants to take the programme seriously and apply what they learnt in their various businesses for the growth of agriculture in Nigeria and Imo in particular.
The highlight of the programme was the presentation of equipment support to some agro SME value chain operators for cashew, cassava, palm oil, palm kernel, ogbono and honey products.
About 200 participants drawn from various organisations and agro-based businesses in the state attended the programme.