By Udo Akam-Alo, ABAKALIKI
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Business Development, Dr Stephen Odo has called on individuals, especially University graduates to get involved in agricultural activities and also embrace the Value Chain Development.
He said the days were far gone when the business of agriculture was all about hoes and cutlasses, noting that modern mechanised farming has made it easier.
Dr. Odo decried the increasing crime rate in the society due to idle minds, urging the youths to embrace agriculture value chain.
The commissioner spoke recently recently while addressing the people of Edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, saying “Agric is the best thing to do.”
He spoke further, “Agric has the opportunity to employ all of us and that is the truth and we are saying that Agric is no longer when we used to carry hoes and cutlasses around; that is where our mind runs to once we are asked to get involved in Agriculture. That is why our graduates feel it is a dirty thing, it is not true.
“Let us think processing, let us think manufacturing and I’m sure all of us and the State will be better off and our economy will grow better.
“We are discussing ‘processing’ and value addition and we are saying that in as much as we don’t want to neglect the traditional Agriculture, we should also improve by emphasizing processing.
It is in that processing that the money lies.
“By packaging, you add value to the product (s) and you make more money.
Let us think more in the Value Chain Development in every field of Agriculture.
“Think about the Palm Tree; nothing in it is a waste because we can get our Palm oil, our palm fruits, even the chaff can be used for something, broom and so on; and this is the point of sensitization we are giving you to enable us open our eyes and look beyond what we can see.
“Why there are crimes is because a lot of people are idle and an idle mind will always remain the devil’s workshop and the Government is not interested that you are idle and that is why we are moving around the rural areas, telling our people to get involved. If you don’t know what to do, get involved in Agriculture .
“So, your concern is our concern as Government; if you are doing well, Government will be very happy because you reduce even crime.”
He further called on all hands to be on deck whereby the state and federal government loan for business assistance is an added advantage which when used judiciously will reduce unemployment, pledging the state government support to interested Entrepreneurs.
“Imagine that every one of us here is engaged in something yielding; over time, that person will employ another or two persons and that person will assist in doing that work and it will reduce our unemployment.; and if your business is doing well, the advantage is that you will pay taxes to government and government will also use part of the tax to develop the state.
“The money is not grant but loan and loan is not bad if you are using it for business. It is not compulsory for everybody to get the loan; if you check yourself and see no need to borrow just forget about it.
“If you look at your business and see that there is no need of rushing to borrow money because there is money to borrow.
“For anybody who wants to do business, it is a good way to actually survive because it is one of the cheapest funds you can ever get within the environment.
“We are not leaving you behind, we have also made arrangements that if money is part of your challenges, we will work hand-in-hand with you to ensure that we assist you.
“We urge you to feel free to approach the Ministry of Business Development for assistance if you have need in terms of funding or any other aspect,” the Commissioner said.